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Cynthia

Audible listener who's grateful for a long commute!

Monrovia, California, United States | Member Since 2012

4738
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 185 reviews
  • 185 ratings
  • 442 titles in library
  • 77 purchased in 2014
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  • 8

    • ORIGINAL (2 hrs and 6 mins)
    • By Dustin Lance Black
    • Narrated By George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Martin Sheen, and others
    Overall
    (80)
    Performance
    (68)
    Story
    (68)

    This play is a powerful account of the case filed by the American Federation for Equal Rights (AFER) in the U.S. District Court in 2010 to overturn Proposition 8, a constitutional amendment that eliminated the rights of same-sex couples to marry in the state of California. Framed around the trial's historic closing arguments in June 2010, 8 provides an intimate look at what unfolded when the issue of same-sex marriage was on trial.

    Dorothy says: "gives me hope for humanity!"
    "Looking forward to a rework after SCOTUS arguments"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    In 2008, 52% of California voters approved Proposition 8 - "Only a marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California." That promptly ended a period of a few months in California when same sex couples could, and did, marry.

    '8' is dramatization of the arguments heard by Judge Vaughan Walker (Brad Pitt) of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in a case called Hollingsworth v. Perry.

    '8' has a stunning cast. Martin Sheen was especially impassioned playing former Solicitor General Theodore B. Olson. George Clooney was played the more low-key David Boies. The dramatization was a reading, not a play. The actors used scripts, their was no blocking, and the reading was in front of a live LA Theater Works audience.

    Do Olson and Boies sound familiar? They are the top constitutional lawyers in the United States, and were on opposite political sides in Bush v. Gore. Both men set aside their political differences to support marriage equality. There's an interview at the end that's enlightening.

    The US Supreme Court (SCOTUS, for Supreme Court of the United States) will hear arguments on Hollingsworth v. Perry, and will answer the questions "Whether the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment prohibits the State of California from defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman; and (2) whether petitioners have standing under Article III, § 2 of the Constitution in this case."

    These are the finest attorneys who can argue this issue before SCOTUS, and I am looking forward to Dustin Lance Black's update.

    3 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • You Might Be a Zombie and Other Bad News: Shocking but Utterly True Facts

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 12 mins)
    • By Cracked.com
    • Narrated By Johnny Heller
    Overall
    (154)
    Performance
    (146)
    Story
    (147)

    You're going to wish you never got this audiobook. Some facts are too terrifying to teach in school. Unfortunately, Cracked.com is more than happy to fill you in. Think you're going to choose whether or not to buy this book? Scientists say your brain secretly makes all your decisions 10 seconds before you even know what they are.

    bookouri says: "just plain funny"
    "Buenas fabulas de humor"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    When I was a kid, I got a big kick out of reading "Ripley's Believe it or Not" books. Published annually, they are collections of odd-but-true short stories and strange facts. My children show the same affection for "The Guinness Book of World Records." I'm waiting until they're of legal drinking age to tell them that the wise folks at Irish brewers Guinness, tired of 196 year's of bar brawls over who the tallest man was and if he was married to the world's tallest woman, published the first guide in 1955.

    "You Might be a Zombie and Other Bad News" (2011) takes amazing, verified stories, a la Ripley's and Guinness; adds the erudite snarkiness of the satirical news "The Onion;" throws in the profanity of a World War II drill instructor; and makes lists. Grammatically correct, advanced vocabulary, easily read/listened to, funny lists. If I was trying to get a teenager interested in science, I'd hand over this book - but only after making sure the kid's parents were okay with their kid reading/listening to frequent references to sex and drugs (the references are completely apropos).

    One of my favorite lists is, "The Six Most Terrifying Foods in the World" (Chapter 13 on Audible). I admit that's because I grew up eating Number 3, lutefisk, as a special treat at Christmas. The winter holidays were the only time you could find it at Lund's on Lake in Uptown Minneapolis. These days, Ikea carries it in the grocery section, in glass jars. I've never seen it on the otherwise true-to-Scandinavia, incredibly easy Christmas dinner that makes your Dad with Swedish grandparents happy. Who has time to make ostakaka anyway? Only folks who spend their time making the delicious cross between pudding and cheesecake, often served with Lingonberries, instead of putting together your new dresser or kitchen table.

    Back to the lutefisk - it's in glass jars and served with wooden toothpicks because it's cod cured in lye. Yes, lye. I didn't realize how strange that really was until I listened to Cracked.com's "You Might be a Zombie". Other great chapters: "Five Ways Your Brain is Messing with Your Head" (Audible Chapter 21); "Five Stories the Media Doesn't Want You to Know About" (Audible Chapter 28); and "Four Great Women Buried by their Boobs" (Audible Chapter 32). The 'boobs list' alone could make four separate books. In fact, I've already read one of them, Brenda Maddox" "Rosalind Franklin: The Dark Lady of DNA" (2012).

    Each chapter is 7 to 10 minutes long, the perfect length for a quick trip to the grocery store and back. Johnny Heller narrates. Heller, in this narration, is an audio doppelgänger of actor Martin Sheen. He was so close, I checked to make sure Heller wasn't a nom de oratorio for Sheen or his sons. Heller isn't, and he's narrated several other books I've loved. The only reason I'm not giving the narration a "5" is that I know some of the non-English words were mispronounced. I think we'd all be happier if I didn't know that.

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    10 of 11 people found this review helpful
  • The Advocate's ExParte: The Advocate Series, Volume 5

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 19 mins)
    • By Teresa Burrell
    • Narrated By Laurel Schroeder
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (4)
    Performance
    (4)
    Story
    (4)

    Attorney Sabre Brown is summoned into Judge Lawrence Mitchell chambers for an ex parte hearing. When the judge attempts to discuss one of her cases, she refuses to listen without proper counsel present. Later that evening, Judge Mitchell is murdered. Sabre's shock at his death is only surpassed by an attempt on the life of Dr. Carolina Heller, a psychologist she employs on a regular basis. Sabre now fears for her own life.

    Cynthia says: "Well, butter my butt . . ."
    "Well, butter my butt . . ."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    And call me a biscuit!

    Teresa Burrell's fictional children's attorney, Sabre Oren Brown, is supported by some unforgettable characters. There's her best friend, Bob Clark, a full time attorney; part time cigarette smoker who keeps trying to quit; and a faithfully married man who's perpetually being snowed by a sob story from a pretty girl. There's Sabre's rarely seen mother who has an outsized ability to make Sabre feel guilty for not visiting enough. And there's Texas-transplant private investigator J.P. Thorne, with his courtly manners and homespun sayings.

    Thorne's a cowboy, from the brim of his Stetson to the tips of his real cowboy kicking boots, the dark tan leather kind with rounded tips and soles and heels that are replaced every so often - not pointy-toed fancy stitching highly polished black dancing boots with by a wanna-be. Thorne retired as San Diego law enforcement, and still has friends and enemies on the force. He's been a constant in The Advocate series, and "The Advocate's Ex Parte" (2013) gives Thorne a chance to show his stuff.

    Burrell lovingly explores a part of Southern California too often unknown, even to natives: the horseback riding, rural ranching and farming part that's overshadowed by the beaches, boats, and sun of "The Real Housewives of Orange County." Burrell's fiction is more true than the "reality" show ever had been.

    Burrell's remains an attorney's attorney. Sabre works way too many hours; sympathizes with clients who lack any ability to empathize with anyone; and she continues to follow the Rules of Professional Conduct. As the writers of television's "How to Get Away With Murder" (2014 - present) show, it's much easier to pretend, in the interest of a story line, attorneys are amoral than to work within the rules and still develop an engaging storyline. Burrell does both, a task which even John Grisham fails from time to time.

    Burrell's last book, "The Advocate's Dilemma" (2012) was a difficult solve. "The Advocate's Ex Parte," with several parallel cases only connected by Sabre's and Thorne's involvement, is even more challenging - but very plausible. Listen all the way to the end, or you'll miss something important.

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    4 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • Whitey Bulger: America's Most Wanted Gangster and the Manhunt That Brought Him to Justice

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 43 mins)
    • By Kevin Cullen, Shelley Murphy
    • Narrated By James Colby
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (146)
    Performance
    (128)
    Story
    (131)

    Raised in a South Boston housing project, James "Whitey" Bulger became the most wanted fugitive of his generation. In this riveting story, rich with family ties and intrigue, award-winning Boston Globe reporters Kevin Cullen and Shelley Murphy follow Whitey’s extraordinary criminal career - from teenage thievery to bank robberies to the building of his underworld empire and a string of brutal murders.

    A. Garofalo says: "boring"
    "Not Quite the Master Criminal of Lore"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    It took me half a year to listen my way through Kevin Cullen and Shelley Murphy's "Whitey Bulger: America's Most Wanted Gangster and the Manhunt That Brought Him To Justice" (2012). I was just plain out-and-out bored by the exhaustive detail - but intrigued enough to keep listening. James Colby's narration was perfect Boston and Irish, so that wasn't the problem. The problem: well, once you set aside the horrific crimes, Whitey was just a parochial, unimaginative businessman. Early on, he found a way to make money and kept doing basically the same thing over and over - extortion - until he was forced to stop.

    Business is a way of creating a lasting empire. Walter Isaacson wrote the acclaimed, authorized biography "Steve Jobs" in 2011 in detail as minute as Cullen and Murphy did, but Bulger is no Jobs. Jobs literally changed the way people think with Apple. Bill Gates Microsoft is important, but Gates' crowning achievement is the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, with its fight against endemics like malaria and Ebola. Whitey made his own run at the world order by funding arms shipments to the Irish Republican Army, but funding a war? Immortality without morality is an empty construct.

    Whitey's kingdom was geographically limited to 'Southie' (South Boston) and the FBI. Whitey probably had more control over good portions of the FBI from 1987 - 1993 than its director, William Sessions, did. Whitey was an informant who operated his criminal enterprise with impunity while the FBI focused on taking down the Mafia. Actually, impunity isn't the right word. Immunity? Assistance? Encouragement?

    Whitey's connections were impeccable - his brother, Bill Bulger, was the Massachusetts Senate President. Brother Jack was highly placed in the state court system. When Whitey was eventually indicted, the entire family stuck together. Loyalty had it's cost: Bill lost his job, and Jack his hard earned government pension. Whitey remained a fugitive while his brothers lost what they'd spent their lives working for.

    Whitey and his long-time companion, Catherine Greig were finally captured, after a decade 'on the lam', in a rent controlled apartment in Santa Monica in 2011. They lived the lives of quiet retirees, careful with their money, and kind to their neighbors. The contrast was stark, and the complete change from blatant extortionist to pensioner on a limited income is why they hid in plain sight for so long.

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    5 of 7 people found this review helpful
  • The Merry Misogynist: The Dr. Siri Investigations, Book 6

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 53 mins)
    • By Colin Cotterill
    • Narrated By Clive Chafer
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (62)
    Performance
    (50)
    Story
    (51)

    In 1978 in poverty-stricken Laos, a man from the city with a truck was somebody—a catch for even the prettiest village virgin. The corpse of one of these bucolic beauties turns up in Dr. Siri’s morgue, and his curiosity is piqued. The victim was tied to a tree and strangled, but she had not, as the doctor had expected, been raped. And though the victim had smooth, pale skin over most of her body, her hands and feet were gnarled, callused, and blistered.

    Cynthia says: "Marriage from Hell"
    "Marriage from Hell"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Most people believe serial killers are an American invention. I mean 'American' in the truest sense: North, Central, and South American. This particular psychopathic subtype may have first been identified, named and popularized by Western psychologists and sociologists, but the archetype existed in the East before the birth of Christ.

    Colin Cotterill's "The Merry Misogynist" (2009) explores the idea of a Laotian serial killer. The killer's ability to succeed depends on the killer's innate understanding of Laos; its tribes; and communist bureaucracy in the 1970's. I have no idea if Cotterill's description of the half dozen papers needed to marry were correct at the time, but it certainly sounded plausible.

    The country is scarred by war, and recovering slowly. The royal family has fallen, and after half a century of insurgency, the communists are establishing a new government. Resources are so limited that someone driving a truck, even in the capital of Vientiane, must be an important person with contacts and resources.

    There's the mystery lover's question: does National Coroner (and the green eyed host of a 1000 year old spirit, Ya Ming) Dr. Siri Paiboun rely on 'deus ex solvo' to uncover the killer? No, of course not. Cotterill's settings are unique, but he follows the mystery writer's convention: the solve depends on solid facts, not the supernatural.

    Clive Chafer's narration is great. He has an English? Australian? accent, which made the listen more exotic.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  • A Good Marriage

    • UNABRIDGED (3 hrs and 33 mins)
    • By Stephen King
    • Narrated By Jessica Hecht
    Overall
    (60)
    Performance
    (57)
    Story
    (56)

    What happens when, on a perfectly ordinary evening, all the things you believed in and took for granted are turned upside down? When her husband of more than 20 years is away on one of his business trips, Darcy Anderson looks for batteries in the garage. Her toe knocks up against a box under a worktable and she discovers the stranger inside her husband. It’s a horrifying discovery, rendered with bristling intensity, and it definitively ends a good marriage.

    Cynthia says: "Did she know?"
    "Did she know?"
    Overall
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    Story

    In 2000, I had a Palm III, a handheld computer a little larger and heavier than today's iPhone 5. It had a stylus a special way to synchronize and write, and (available for separate purchase) a camera and a keyboard. It also had the world's first mass-market ebook, Stephen King's "Riding the Bullet". The eerily floating gray-green words on a black screen; sentences and paragraphs scrolling automatically at my exact reading speed; and a late evening with the lights off and a glass of good red wine made that novella mean more to me than it ever did on actual paper.

    "A Good Marriage" was originally published in Stephen King's 2010 novella collection, "Full Dark, No Stars". The book sold well - all of King's books do - but I thought the stories were lackluster, or tried too hard to shock, or both. When I finished the read, I put the hardback on my bookshelf, and so thoroughly forgot it I didn't remember reading about the 27 year marriage of Darcy and Bob Anderson when I clicked "purchase" on Audible.

    The turned out to be a fortunate mistake. "A Good Marriage" (2014 Audible copyright) works very well as an audio narration because of the excellent performance by Jessica Hecht. Hecht becomes the credulous, complacent and self-satisfied Darcy who literally stumbles across her husband Bob's secret. Hecht's about the same age as the fictional homemaker, and plays the sweet, even tempered woman unwittingly married to a man who bears a physical and avocational resemblance to Dennis Rader, the BTK killer. King imagines an answer to a question we've all asked, "Did Paula Rader know? Did Green River Killer Gary Ridgeway's wives Marcia or Judith know? Did they?"

    Hecht's performance makes a so-so story chilling and memorable, just as delivering "Riding the Bullet" electronically made that story frightening and unforgettable.

    The Audible release must be timed to coincide with the October 3, 2014 release of the film adaptation of "A Good Marriage" starring Anthony LaPaglia and Joan Allen. I haven't seen it, so I don't know how the movie compares to the book compares to the Audible.

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    16 of 19 people found this review helpful
  • The Advocate's Dilemma: The Advocate Series, Book 4

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 36 mins)
    • By Teresa Burrell
    • Narrated By Laurel Schroeder
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (6)
    Performance
    (6)
    Story
    (6)

    Attorney Sabre Brown's day is going well until she walks into her office and finds a dead man sprawled across her desk. When, Bob, her best friend and colleague is suspected of the murder, and Sabre's minor client has information that might clear him, Sabre has a dilemma. How does she help her best friend without betraying the confidence of the child she is sworn to protect?

    Cynthia says: "When Ethics Aren't Morals"
    "When Ethics Aren't Morals"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The first hardest (American) Attorney Rule of Professional Conduct is the obligation an attorney has to maintain the confidences of a client inviolate. It's a 'hardest rule' because it pits common accepted morality against lawyer ethics.

    In Teresa Burrell's "The Advocate's Dilemma" (2012), Children's attorney Sabre Oren Brown represents two boys. Their mother, Dana, is more interested in her next drink, fix or both than her children. Their late, unlamented scam artist father is found murdered at the beginning of the book.

    Bob Clark, Sabre's best friend and a close colleague in the Juvenile Court, identifies the deserving victim as one of his clients. Clark rapidly becomes a suspect when Dana openly flirts with Clark at court appearances.

    Sabre and J.P. Thorne, a retired San Diego police officer working as a private investigator, question whether Clark killed Dana's scheming husband. The way to quell their doubts: find out who did. Both are stymied by the obligation to hold a client's confidences quiet: the children know things about their father's rancid life that could help find the killer, but they've begged Sabre not to tell.

    Burrell's been developing Thorne as a character. "The Advocate's Dilemma" moves Thorne from a one dimensional character known entirely for his Stetson, his cowboy boots, and his homespun Texas metaphors to a complex character with an intriguing back story.

    I've gotten used to narrator Laurel Schroeder, and she seems to be enjoying Sabre as a character.

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    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • The Advocate's Conviction: The Advocate Series, Book 3

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs)
    • By Teresa Burrell
    • Narrated By Laurel Schroeder
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (9)
    Performance
    (9)
    Story
    (9)

    Sabre Orin Brown's clients keep disappearing. With seemingly no connection between the cases, Sabre enlists the help of her southern PI friend, JP, and her best friend, Bob, to find each of them - before it's too late. In her race against the clock, Sabre must determine whether contemporary horrors are being buried in the shadow of dark traditions - or if it's something else at work.

    Cynthia says: "Not Your Ordinary Lawyer Mystery"
    "Not Your Ordinary Lawyer Mystery"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    "The Advocate's Conviction" (2012) is Book 3 in Teresa Burrell's "Advocate" series. The series isn't a clichéd lawyer series with a hard boiled criminal lawyer whose cynicism is rivaled only by her drinking. Sabre Orin Brown is a court--appointed children's lawyer, and this series isn't "attorney-porn" (Attorney-porn: one case at a time; lots of time to strategize and plan; a great jury;,and everyone but the bad guy likes the lawyer.) Sabre has lots of cases at the same time; she gets stressed out and annoyed; she needs help and asks for it; her cases are always in front of Judges, some of whom are real jerks; and sometimes her clients hate her.

    Burrell has always been great at plots, and "The Advocate'a Conviction" is the best yet: it's tautly woven, keeps-you-guessing-til-the-end good, and surprisingly plausible. Burrell sometimes writes dialog like the attorney she is. Some of the characters use vocabulary that is much better than their education.

    Sabre represents children from two very different families torn apart by alcohol and drugs. Both run away after getting involved in the juvenile justice system. The contrast between the two families is stark. One family desperately wants to stay together - and the other? The situation was so horrible, it's surprising that the child wasn't removed earlier. Or, at least it seems surprising.

    Burrell is great at subtly engendering sympathy even for secondary/supporting characters. It's a neat way to make Sabre's world more complex and real.

    Burrell's been trying out different narrators. Laurel Schroeder seemed a little too clipped, fast and mechanical in the first part of the narration. About halfway through, she seemed to relax and understand the characters.

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    10 of 11 people found this review helpful
  • The Viral Storm: The Dawn of a New Pandemic Age

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs)
    • By Nathan Wolfe
    • Narrated By Robertson Dean
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (268)
    Performance
    (236)
    Story
    (235)

    In The Viral Storm, award-winning biologist Nathan Wolfe tells the story of how viruses and human beings have evolved side by side through history; how deadly viruses like HIV, swine flu, and bird flu almost wiped us out in the past; and why modern life has made our species vulnerable to the threat of a global pandemic. Wolfe's research missions to the jungles have earned him the nickname "the Indiana Jones of virus hunters," and here Wolfe takes listeners along on his groundbreaking and often dangerous research trips - to reveal the surprising origins of the most deadly diseases....

    L. says: "a bio-geek's wet dream"
    "Timely. Terrifying. True."
    Overall
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    I scanned my bookshelf before I wrote this review. Carl Zimmer's "Parasite Rex: Inside the Bizarre World of Nature's Most Dangerous Creatures" (2001), has a top shelf place that belies it's origins: I "borrowed" it from a JPL scientist who was more interested in his own biceps than the universe. Dr Nicholas P. Money's "Mr. Bloomfield's Orchard: The mysterious world of mushrooms, molds and mycologists" (2002) and "Carpet Monsters and Killer Spores: A Natural History of Toxic Mold" (2004) have truly honored places - Dr. Money loves mold like I love my kids, and he's got that dry, Monty Python wit to go with it.

    Nathan Wolfe PhD's "The Viral Storm: The Dawn of a New Pandemic Age" (2012) was a natural fit. if it weren't for the current Ebola outbreak making everyone interested in pandemics, I would wondered just how well Audible knew me. Wolfe isn't as amusing as Money, but I don't think Wolfe aims to be, and I don't think Money can play the serious guy, no matter how deadly on point he is.

    Wolfe discusses HIV/AIDS at length. As a virus, it's intriguing and horrifying. It's mutable and recombinant - but it's transmitted by intimate contact and blood, so it's a relatively contained epidemic. So is HPV, a sexually transmitted virus that causes genital warts in some variations - and cervical cancer in others.

    Wolfe presciently addresses the current Ebola outbreak two years before it happened. Some might say that Wolfe was making a lucky guess in "The Viral Storm," but Wolfe wasn't guessing. He knew what was coming, period; and he got the who, what, where and why pretty much right, too. Well, Wolfe didn't have actual names for the "who" but he got the professions/jobs/work of those who first contracted Ebola right, and he definitely has the "how" down. Ebola will burn itself out eventually - it's an inefficient transmitter but lethal, burning through its hosts fairly quickly and killing more than half of those it infects. The question is how many will it kill this time?

    What makes Wolfe's book truly scary is the cleverness of the viruses. HIV/AIDS hid its hosts, and it took years to develop a diagnostic test. At the beginning of the epidemic, an HIV+ person could unknowingly infect those he or she loved, not discovering the illness for years. And Ebola - it doesn't just kill, it takes the loved ones who care for the infected, too. Viruses are small, with very little genetic material - and some can combine with other viruses to make a lethal new microbe. It's as if viruses are sentient and bent on taking over the world.

    It's a fascinating, challenging, and so very frightening listen.

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    10 of 12 people found this review helpful
  • Redshirts: A Novel with Three Codas

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 41 mins)
    • By John Scalzi
    • Narrated By Wil Wheaton
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (5994)
    Performance
    (5584)
    Story
    (5584)

    Ensign Andrew Dahl has just been assigned to the Universal Union Capital Ship Intrepid, flagship of the Universal Union since the year 2456. Life couldn’t be better…until Andrew begins to pick up on the facts that (1) every Away Mission involves some kind of lethal confrontation with alien forces; (2) the ship’s captain, its chief science officer, and the handsome Lieutenant Kerensky always survive these confrontations; and (3) at least one low-ranked crew member is, sadly, always killed.

    Paige says: "Not his Wheal-house"
    ""Fascinating" - Spock"
    Overall
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    Story

    was too young to watch the 79 episodes of Star Trek in their original run (1966 - 1969). As after school reruns in the late 1970's - well, 'TOS" (as "The Original Series" is now referred as) was on after reruns of "The Brady Bunch (1969 - 1974) and "The Partridge Family" (1970 - 1974). Star Trek:TOS was perfect for winding down after a grueling day in Junior High School, which equaled the TV screen for alien life forms and mysterious rituals.

    Even back then, I remember that the men, women, and telepathic beings that wore 'Redshirts' weren't going to live to the end of the episode, and maybe even to the first commercial break. Unless, of course, James Doohan's "Scotty" was in red - and he was known to wear science blue or command gold from time to time. The 1999 Sci-Fi parody film "Galaxy Quest" illustrated the quintessential Redshirt, "Guy" (Sam Rockwell), killed off on his only appearance on that fictional show, captured the resigned terror perfectly.

    John Scalzi's "Redshirts" (2012) explores an alternate universe where the unnamed writer (adroitly narrated by Wil Wheaton) is literally [reviewer's pun intended] a god to the Redshirts. In our 'real world', a Redshirt goes on an 'away mission' and is cannon fodder, gone by the first commercial break. In Scalzi's alternate universe, Redshirts are working folks who know when to disappear to another level of the ship to avoid a deadly away mission, and who are well aware of the misfortune of a promotion to the bridge or a Deck 6 to 12 assignment.

    I'll guarantee that as someone who remembers Star Trek:TOS; still hasn't seen many of TNG episodes; and is somewhat aware that there are other Star Trek series, but never watched them; and saw a couple of the movies when they got to Netflix, there must have bern a ton of inside references I missed. But that didn't stop me frown enjoying "Redshirts" anyway.

    I did have to listen to the last couple of chapters more than once. Let your mind wander for a few seconds when your Prius is cut off on the 5 North at the end of a day when the Santa Ana winds are relentless, and you'll miss a major plot twist.

    And did I mention Wil Wheaton? Oh, only once. For so many reasons, he was absolutely perfect narrating this book.

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    6 of 8 people found this review helpful
  • Kitty Genovese: A True Account of a Public Murder and its Private Consequences

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 8 mins)
    • By Catherine Pelonero
    • Narrated By Dina Pearlman
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (106)
    Performance
    (97)
    Story
    (100)

    Written in a flowing narrative style, Kitty Genovese: A True Account of a Public Murder and its Private Consequences presents the story of the horrific and infamous murder of Kitty Genovese, a young woman stalked and stabbed on the street where she lived in Queens, New York in 1964. The case sparked national outrage when the New York Times revealed that dozens of witnesses had seen or heard the attacks on Kitty Genovese and her struggle to reach safety but had failed to come to her aid or even call police until after the killer had fled.

    Wanda says: "Wow, read this only if details does not annoy you."
    "When Indifference becomes Evil"
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    Novelist Stephen King (1947 - present) makes places evil and sometimes sentient characters in his novels. "'Salem's Lot" (1975) was the first chilling fictional King town I read. Later, he created the adjacent, inimical town of Derry, Maine, in "It" (1986). Derry's utter indifference is its most deadly trait.

    In 1964, the chilling indifference of real-life Kew Gardens, NY, met the psychopathic Winston Mosley. The combination was deadly. Mosley slaughtered a screaming, bloody Kitty Genovese in front of at least 37 neighbors who admitted seeing or hearing him over 45 minutes. There were hundreds more neighbors who didn't admit to seeing or hearing Mosley attack her twice outside large apartment buildings.

    I don't remember when I first heard about this murder, but I do know even 50 years later, it's often cited as the ultimate anecdote of apathy, fear, and - as I remember it, contempt for the victim.

    Growing up in the Midwest long before the internet age, I heard stories that Genovese shouldn't have been out as late as she was; that she'd dressed proactively; or that she'd been killed in a domestic dispute with an angry boyfriend and the neighbors thought it was just one of the couple's regular spats. Catherine Pelonero's "Kitty Genovese: A True Account of a Public Murder and Its Private Consequences" (2014) dispelled the myths I'd too readily accepted. Kitty Genovese managed a bar, and was on her way home from work. She wasn't wearing a miniskirt and high heels. She was a lesbian in a loving, committed relationship, and she did not know her murderer, Mosley, a serial killer.

    The 1964 Kew Gardens was complicit in Kitty Genovese' murder, an 'unindicted co-conspirator'. Mosley knew his hunting grounds so well that he counted on the neighbors 'willful blindness' At trial, his attorney unsuccessfully argued that his flagrant attack was proof that he was 'schizophrenic' and should be found "Not Guilty by Reason of Mental Defect". Mosley even managed to terrorize a New York neighborhood 4 years after he was convicted and sentenced to death, escaping from a hospital visit and terrorizing a small town for a week.

    [Reviewer's note: The term "schizophrenic' was used in 1964 to refer to people who have what is now differentiated as the mental diseases bipolar disorder and separately, schizophrenia; and mentally disordered sociopaths and psychopaths. See, for example, Robert Hare, PhD, who developed guidelines for diagnosing psychopathy (someone without conscience) in the late 1980's, publishing the PCL-2 checklist in 1991. Schizophrenia is commonly defined today as a disease, sometimes treatable, where the affected person cannot tell the difference between what's real and what's not real. Mosley does not fit the modern definition of schizophrenia.]

    Kitty Genovese' killing did spur an important change in public safety: it lead to the creation of what is now the 9-1-1 system. In 1964, calling the police meant calling an Operator, and hopefully being transferred to the right police department; or trying to figure out the right department yourself. It took some work, and at least some Kew Garden residents thought it would be a pain, and that anyway, someone else was probably already calling anyway. Surely they were.

    There have been follow up reporting and other books. According to Pelonero and other writers, Kew Gardens in the 21st Century remains defensive, insular, and maintains no interest in 'getting involved'. It's as if the place itself is bad, like the fictional Derry.

    Dina Pearlman's narration was almost robotic in the second section, which distracted me.

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