Saturday, March 28
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Tag: non-fiction

Pop Culture Capsule — November 14-20, 1993

Pop Culture Capsule — November 14-20, 1993

Capsules, History
While the nation should be celebrating another win by my Rutgers Scarlet Knights, apparently it's considered bigger news that Notre Dame is back at #1 for the first time in 19 years. In fact, almost exactly 19 years. Before this week, the Fighting Irish last held the top spot in college football in the poll released November 16, 1993. To put all of this into context, here's what was going on in the world of American pop culture the last time Notre Dame was at the top of the college football world. Top 10 Movies 1. Addams Family Values 2. The Three Musketeers 3. Carlito's Way 4. My Life 5. Mrs. Doubtfire 6. Man's Best Friend 7. Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas 8. The Remains of the Day 9. Cool Runnings 10. A Perfect World Will you look at that -- the top movie of...
Book report: The Genius in All of Us: New Insights into Genetics, Talent, and IQ

Book report: The Genius in All of Us: New Insights into Genetics, Talent, and IQ

Books
For those of you who, like me, are reasonably intelligent folks who have long wondered why you weren't bestowed with outrageous genetic gifts like musical genius or athletic ability, have I got the book for you! It's The Genius in All of Us: New Insights into Genetics, Talent, and IQ by David Shenk. OK, I'm being a little facetious. But honestly, Shenk's book offers a lot more than just a purely scientific analysis of the nature/nurture debate. To my surprise, The Genius in All of Us is a bit of a hybrid -- part case study, part self-help/motivational literature. He lays out the premise right away in the prologue, telling the story of how baseball legend Ted Williams became one of the game's most feared sluggers not by sheer chance (nature), but by simply busting his ass for years (nurt
Book report: The French Connection

Book report: The French Connection

Books
The nice thing about reading a book prior to seeing a subsequent cinematic adaption is that you can go in fresh, with no notions or expectations.  So when I picked up a copy of Robin Moore's The French Connection, published in 1969 and later adapted into a hit movie starring Gene Hackman, I only had a vague idea of what to expect.  Actually, that's not entirely true.  I had a vague idea that it would be an action-packed story with lots of chases and maybe shootouts.  Also, I was pretty sure it took place in France. Turns out I was wrong on a few counts. For one - and I trust I'm not spoiling this for anyone - the book actually takes place in New York City.  It details the investigation of and subsequent arrests of a group of shady characters involved in the heroin trade.  The thing i
Book report: The Worst Hard Time

Book report: The Worst Hard Time

Books
You ever talk to one of those annoying people who always feels compelled to one-up your tales of woe?  You try to get a little sympathy for spraining your ankle, and all they can do is go on about the time they broke their leg twenty years ago.  Then there's the other variation, where you try to talk about a difficult situation with an older relative and they bust out the "back in my day..." line to trump you.  It's like, enough already old timer. Well here's the thing about the folks who lived through the Dust Bowl of the 1930s - their stories really are worse than your stories.  Every time.  And they don't have to embellish or exaggerate.  The trick is to make those stories readable and engaging, which isn't as easy as it may seem.  Fortunately we have Timothy Egan's 2005 work, The Wo