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What are you reading now?
Topic Started: Nov 7 2006, 08:06 PM (60,372 Views)
George K
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Finally
John D'Oh
Sep 13 2017, 05:44 AM
Jolly and George, it's not in the same universe as the Old Man's War series (at least, I assume it's not, I haven't finished it yet), but it's very similar in tone and style to those books.
First review on Amazon:

"About two thirds of the way through it starts becoming obvious that the story isn't going to wrap up in this volume. I'm okay with the idea of a multi-volume saga, but in previous series Scalzi at least wrapped up the story in each book, and then the next book is more of a sequel. In this case the book just ends pretty much right in the middle of the action. It's almost as if he wrote an entire story and them his publisher decided to chop it in half to make more money. I loved the writing, the characters and the story but am not a fan of the "cliff hanger" ending."
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- Mik, 6/14/08


Nothing is as effective as homeopathy.

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John D'Oh
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MAMIL
That's how a lot of sci-fi is nowadays, unfortunately.

If I know they're going to do this, I tend to wait until the series is finished, or at least a couple of books in. In this case, it was a Kindle library book, so I can't really grumble.

It is quite annoying.
What do you mean "we", have you got a mouse in your pocket?
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John D'Oh
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MAMIL
Speaking of series, if you want to read a trilogy that's already completed, I can highly recommend the Ancillary World series, by Ann Leckie. I loved the whole series.

https://www.amazon.com/Ancillary-world-3-Book-Series/dp/B0141KAPI6
What do you mean "we", have you got a mouse in your pocket?
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George K
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Finally
George K
Sep 12 2017, 03:19 PM
So, I figured I might as well finish off the series. Started this today:

Posted Image
Good story. One that, if you wanted it to, could lead to another series of books. Everything is explained, and there are no more mysteries.

However, it took Clark 4 books to tell the story. There was a lot, and I mean a lot, of extraneous material, especially in the third book, which seemed like just a reason to set up #4. Rather than being four short-ish books, it could have easily been two moderately long books.

Nevertheless, I enjoyed the revisit to an old tale.

Up next:

Posted Image

I mentioned that I was a bit disappointed with "Master and Commander," mostly for the reason that I didn't feel like the book *went* anywhere. I really enjoyed the TV adaptation when A&E was broadcasting it, so I'll give this a shot. Only about 10% into it, but enjoying it a lot so far.
A guide to GKSR: Click

"Now look here, you Baltic gas passer... "
- Mik, 6/14/08


Nothing is as effective as homeopathy.

I'd rather listen to an hour of Abba than an hour of The Beatles.
- Klaus, 4/29/18
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George K
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Finally
Posted Image

The more le Carre I read, the more I am amazed at the man's skill in putting together a sentence.
A guide to GKSR: Click

"Now look here, you Baltic gas passer... "
- Mik, 6/14/08


Nothing is as effective as homeopathy.

I'd rather listen to an hour of Abba than an hour of The Beatles.
- Klaus, 4/29/18
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Red Rice
HOLY CARP!!!
Jolly
Sep 2 2017, 11:26 AM
jon-nyc
Aug 13 2017, 08:47 AM
Jolly, she's a good writer to be sure but I think that book is overrated. The first few chapters of Churchill's abridged WW-1 memoirs gives a much better account of the lead up to the war.

Also her utter hatred of Germans - however understandable for a Jewish person writing just 15 years after WWII - shows through quite a bit and takes away from the work.


Not saying don't read - as I said, it's good. It just doesn't live up to its vaunted reputation.


I'd be curious how much you agree with the above after you've read it. Report back.
I agree with you about her and the Germans...but I still liked the book. Covers the multiple reasons for the war pretty well.
Yes, I liked her book as well. Hastings's Catastrophe 1914 is very good too.
Civilisation, I vaguely realized then - and subsequent observation has confirmed the view - could not progress that way. It must have a greater guiding principle to survive. To treat it as a carcase off which each man tears as much as he can for himself, is to stand convicted a brute, fit for nothing better than a jungle existence, which is a death-struggle, leading nowhither. I did not believe that was the human destiny, for Man individually was sane and reasonable, only collectively a fool.

I hope the gunner of that Hun two-seater shot him clean, bullet to heart, and that his plane, on fire, fell like a meteor through the sky he loved. Since he had to end, I hope he ended so. But, oh, the waste! The loss!

- Cecil Lewis
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George K
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Finally
George K
Sep 24 2017, 07:33 AM
Posted Image
Yeesh, what a depressing book. Makes "Spy Who Came In From The Cold" look like a Disney tale. Kind of disjointed, in the sense that the 1st half of the book is all setup for the mission, and the 2nd half is training, with the mission and its result only the last few chapters. I enjoyed for the richness of the language and the characters, but ... wow.

Anyhow, on to something a little lighter:

Posted Image

Just started it this morning. So far very, very engaging. The author has done tremendous research and his goal is to dispel many of the myths surrounding Napoleon.
Quote:
 
An Amazon Best Book of the Month, November 2014: There have been many books about Napoleon, but Andrew Roberts’ single-volume biography is the first to make full use of the ongoing French publication of Napoleon’s 33,000 letters. Seemingly leaving no stone unturned, Roberts begins in Corsica in 1769, pointing to Napoleon’s roots on that island—and a resulting fascination with the Roman Empire—as an early indicator of what history might hold for the boy. Napoleon’s upbringing—from his roots, to his penchant for holing up and reading about classic wars, to his education in France, all seemed to point in one direction—and by the time he was 24, he was a French general. Though he would be dead by fifty one, it was only the beginning of what he would accomplish. Although Napoleon: A Life is 800 pages long, it is both enjoyable and illuminating. Napoleon comes across as whip smart, well-studied, ambitious to a fault, a little awkward, and perhaps most importantly, a man who could turn on the charm when he needed to. Through his portrait, Roberts seems to be arguing two things: that Napoleon was far more than just a complex, and that his contributions to the world greatly surpassed those of the evil dictators that some compare him to. “The historian, like the orator,” Roberts quotes Napoleon as saying, “must persuade. He must convince.” I, for one, am convinced. A fascinating read. –Chris Schluep
A guide to GKSR: Click

"Now look here, you Baltic gas passer... "
- Mik, 6/14/08


Nothing is as effective as homeopathy.

I'd rather listen to an hour of Abba than an hour of The Beatles.
- Klaus, 4/29/18
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Aqua Letifer
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ZOOOOOM!
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The last poem in the collection is probably his best ever, with the possible exception of Laughing Heart.

if you’re going to try,
go all the way.
otherwise, don’t even start.

go all the way.
this could mean losing girlfriends,
wives, relatives, jobs and
maybe even your mind.

go all the way.
it could mean not eating for 3 or 4 days.
it could mean freezing on a park bench.
it could mean jail,
it could mean derision,
mockery,
isolation.
isolation is the gift—
all the others are a test of your endurance,
of how much you really want to do it.

and you’ll do it
despite rejection and the worst odds.
and it will be better than
anything else you can imagine.

there is no other feeling like that.
you will be alone with the gods
and the nights will flame with fire.

you will ride life
straight to perfect laughter
it's the only good fight there is.
I cite irreconcilable differences.
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Catseye3
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Fulla-Carp
From https://bestpresidentialbios.com/2017/10/10/new-release-alert-grant-by-ron-chernow/

Posted Image

"In my view, this year's most compelling new presidential biography (though it's not without competition) is Ron Chernow's biography of Ulysses S. Grant which is being released today. Chernow, of course, is the author of my favorite presidential biography so far: the Pulitzer Prize-winning 'Washington: A Life'."
Chocolate doesn't ask silly questions. Chocolate understands.
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George K
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Finally
I thought it wasn't being released until later this week (the 15th).
A guide to GKSR: Click

"Now look here, you Baltic gas passer... "
- Mik, 6/14/08


Nothing is as effective as homeopathy.

I'd rather listen to an hour of Abba than an hour of The Beatles.
- Klaus, 4/29/18
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jon-nyc
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Cheers
I'll bet that's a great read. I love his biographies.
In my defense, I was left unsupervised.
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Catseye3
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Fulla-Carp
George K
Oct 10 2017, 03:35 AM
I thought it wasn't being released until later this week (the 15th).
:shrug: That website states it's today, October 10.
Chocolate doesn't ask silly questions. Chocolate understands.
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George K
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Finally
Catseye3
Oct 10 2017, 03:40 AM
George K
Oct 10 2017, 03:35 AM
I thought it wasn't being released until later this week (the 15th).
:shrug: That website states it's today, October 10.
I was clearly wrong.

And it has one review on Amazon:
Quote:
 
I was eagerly looking forward to Ron Chernow's next book. It pains me to report that Grant is simply not hero-making material as far as I'm concerned. I read only a sample of the book, but what I read was turgid and dull. Not because of Chernow's writing, which is superb, but because the subject was not sufficiently interesting. I returned both copies (they sent me two for some reason) to Amazon.
FFS.
A guide to GKSR: Click

"Now look here, you Baltic gas passer... "
- Mik, 6/14/08


Nothing is as effective as homeopathy.

I'd rather listen to an hour of Abba than an hour of The Beatles.
- Klaus, 4/29/18
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bachophile
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HOLY CARP!!!
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autobiography written in his last year, ( age 93) he knew he was at the end so he dictated in english this book as his legacy


"I don't know much about classical music. For years I thought the Goldberg Variations were something Mr. and Mrs. Goldberg did on their wedding night." Woody Allen
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jon-nyc
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Cheers
I bet that's interesting.
In my defense, I was left unsupervised.
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Frank_W
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Resident Misanthrope
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Anatomy Prof: "The human body has about 20 sq. meters of skin."
Me: "Man, that's a lot of lampshades!"
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George K
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Finally
Frank_W
Oct 10 2017, 03:22 PM
Posted Image
Why didn't you just PM bach or me?

Yeesh...
A guide to GKSR: Click

"Now look here, you Baltic gas passer... "
- Mik, 6/14/08


Nothing is as effective as homeopathy.

I'd rather listen to an hour of Abba than an hour of The Beatles.
- Klaus, 4/29/18
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Frank_W
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Resident Misanthrope
:lol2: Shhh.... I'm halfway through the frontal lobotomy of my son's cat. :lol2:

(The secret is, I don't care nearly so much about the patient as I do, keeping the surgeon happy and the circulator from getting emotionally... "terse." :surrender:
Anatomy Prof: "The human body has about 20 sq. meters of skin."
Me: "Man, that's a lot of lampshades!"
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Aqua Letifer
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ZOOOOOM!
Posted Image

Gonna try to read it in 9 days.
I cite irreconcilable differences.
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Klaus
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HOLY CARP!!!
I guess if there's one book that deserves the label "classic" it's this one. Let me know what you think about it!
Trifonov Fleisher Klaus Sokolov Zimmerman
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Aqua Letifer
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ZOOOOOM!
Ah, I've already read it a couple of times. ^_^

The first time I read it was in high school. At the time I thought, "man, the Greeks really did have some crazy-ass ideas."

The second time I read it, I started to understand what they meant about the journey being the point, not the destination.

Now, what I think is that it absolutely depends on the trip.
I cite irreconcilable differences.
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George K
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Finally
Catseye3
Oct 10 2017, 03:04 AM
From https://bestpresidentialbios.com/2017/10/10/new-release-alert-grant-by-ron-chernow/

Posted Image

"In my view, this year's most compelling new presidential biography (though it's not without competition) is Ron Chernow's biography of Ulysses S. Grant which is being released today. Chernow, of course, is the author of my favorite presidential biography so far: the Pulitzer Prize-winning 'Washington: A Life'."
A review by Bill Clinton:

Quote:
 
GRANT
By Ron Chernow
Illustrated. 1,074 pp. Penguin Press. $40.

This is a good time for Ron Chernow’s fine biography of Ulysses S. Grant to appear, as we live with the reality of Faulkner’s declaration, “The past is never dead, it’s not even past.” We are now several years into revisiting the issues that shaped Grant’s service in the Civil War and the White House, from the rise of white supremacy groups to successful attacks on the right of eligible citizens to vote to the economic inequalities of the Gilded Age. In so many ways “Grant” comes to us now as much a mirror as a history lesson.

As history, it is remarkable, full of fascinating details sure to make it interesting both to those with the most cursory knowledge of Grant’s life and to those who have read his memoirs or any of several previous biographies. It tells well the story of a country boy’s unlikely path to leadership, his peculiarities, strengths, blind spots and uncanny powers of concentration and courage during battle. It covers Grant’s amazing feats on horseback at West Point, where in jumping hurdles “he exceeded all rivals,” clearing the bar a foot higher than other cadets. His mediocre grades have long obscured his interests and abilities: He was president of the literary society, had a talent for drawing and was trusted by classmates to mediate disputes.

His service in the Mexican War is covered briefly, but it contributes to our understanding of his later military and political life. Grant’s often harrowing experiences and extreme efforts to care for the wounded still on the battlefield taught him both about the conduct of war and about war’s political implications. He believed that the victory over Mexico, with its huge territorial gains, intensified disputes over slavery and led directly to the Civil War.

The major encounters of the Civil War are deftly included, as are the business failures and bouts of drunkenness — never proved to have happened during major military campaigns, despite what his enemies often asserted. Chernow, the author of “Alexander Hamilton” and other biographies, judiciously quotes from Grant’s own memoirs, and he also shows how they were a miracle of sorts, produced by a dying man racked with pain from throat cancer, in a final effort to leave his family some amount of financial stability. “Somehow,” Chernow writes, “in agony, he had produced 336,000 splendid words in the span of a year.”

“The Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant” ends shortly after the surrender at Appomattox Court House, and as Chernow states in his introduction, many biographies of Grant skip over his presidency as an “embarrassing coda” dominated by multiple scandals. As Chernow puts it, “It is sadly ironic that Grant’s presidency became synonymous with corruption, since he himself was impeccably honest.”

For all its scholarly and literary strengths, this book’s greatest service is to remind us of Grant’s significant achievements at the end of the war and after, which have too long been overlooked and are too important today to be left in the dark. Considered by many detractors to be, as a general, little more than a stoic butcher, Grant, in the written terms of surrender at Appomattox, showed the empathy he felt toward the defeated and downtrodden — conditions he knew from harsh personal experience. The terms presented to Robert E. Lee carried “no tinge of malice” and “breathed a spirit of charity reminiscent of Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address.” He notably allowed the exhausted and starving Confederate regulars to keep their mules and horses, knowing from the rough experience of his failed Missouri farm (Grant presciently named its log cabin “Hardscrabble”) that only by putting in a crop as soon as they returned home would these destitute farmers — and their families — have a chance to survive the coming winter. Grant also knew that if the country had any chance of being brought back together, it needed something other than a harsh peace. In making national healing a priority, he — like Lincoln — took the long view.

Grant’s tendency toward empathy with the downtrodden and defeated would return again and again, and not always to his advantage or credit. He didn’t hesitate to appoint family and friends far above their abilities, and to remember even the smallest favor done on his behalf while he was a struggling civilian. There’s a wonderful exchange in the book when Grant as president offers a political appointment to a friend from his prewar days in St. Louis, when he was broke and dependent on his slave-owning (and openly contemptuous) father-in-law. Grant reminded the friend that “when I was standing on a street corner ... by a wagon loaded with wood, you approached and said: ‘Captain, haven’t you been able to sell your wood?’ I answered: ‘No.’ Then you said: ‘I’ll buy it; and whenever you haul a load of wood to the city and can’t sell it, just take it around to my residence ... and I’ll pay you for it.’ I haven’t forgotten it.”

After Appomattox, and the assassination of Lincoln, Grant moved to what he then called Washington City to lead the Army through the war’s aftermath. Chernow notes that, as a general, Grant had nearly always fought on unfamiliar ground, which required a kind of concentration that could support a state of continuous reassessment. Washington was also unfamiliar ground, and continuous reassessment was just as vital to political success as it had been to victory on the field. Grant proved a quick study, even after he had professed to be “no politician.”

For example, he saw early on that the new president, Andrew Johnson, who many feared would be much harsher on the South than Lincoln would have been, had begun to lean hard — and dangerously — in the opposite direction. “Mr. Johnson,” Grant writes in his memoirs, “after a complete revolution of sentiment, seemed to regard the South not only as an oppressed people, but as the people best entitled to consideration of any of our citizens.” Needless for Grant to say, this favor of Johnson’s fell to white Southerners only. He began to bring the weight of the presidency down on the side of those who championed what became the infamous Black Codes, designed to force freed slaves to continue to work on plantations in conditions much like those before emancipation.

As Grant’s and Johnson’s political differences grew wider, Grant, as General of the Army and immensely popular, began to suffer the ire of the increasingly besieged Johnson, who demanded fealty and, when frustrated and convinced of disloyalties real or imagined, tended to lash out. “It grated on Johnson that Grant,” Chernow says, “a mere subordinate, had been endowed with … godlike powers over Reconstruction.”

Contrary to Johnson’s claim, the power Grant had to oversee the fate of the postwar South was hardly godlike. A former social club named for the Greek word kuklos, or circle, the Ku Klux Klan had begun “to shade into a quasi-military organization, recruiting Nathan Bedford Forrest as a leader” — and vowing “to ‘support a white man’s government’ and carry weapons at all times.” By the time of Grant’s election as president in 1868, the Klan was targeting black voters and their supporters with “murders and mutilations in a grotesque spirit of sadistic mockery.” The Union that Grant had been instrumental in saving as a general was splintering anew even before he took his oath of office. As Chernow writes, “If there were many small things Grant didn’t know about the presidency, he knew one big thing: His main mission was to settle unfinished business from the war by preserving the Union and safeguarding the freed slaves.”

And there was a very real chance Grant, and with him the country, would fail.

For that new mission, Grant needed cabinet members, staff and advisers every bit as masterful as his wartime lieutenants. His choices were notably hit-and-miss, but his very first appointee from a Confederate state proved to be one of his best. Amos T. Akerman of Georgia, Grant’s second attorney general, was “honest and incorruptible” and “devoted to the rule of law.” When Congress created the Department of Justice the same week as his appointment, the attorney general became overnight the head of “an active department with a substantial array of new powers.” Those powers were sorely needed to fight the Klan and what Chernow appropriately calls “the worst outbreak of domestic terrorism in American history.”

Grant signed three bills, collectively known as the Enforcement Acts, to strengthen federal powers in combating Klan terrorism, which had already claimed thousands of lives, the vast majority of them black. After the laws were in force, “federal grand juries, many interracial, brought 3,384 indictments against the K.K.K., resulting in 1,143 convictions.” Almost as important as the convictions was the message they sent. As Akerman told his district attorneys, “If you cannot convict, you, at least, can expose, and ultimately such exposures will make the community ashamed of shielding the crime.”

By the end of his first term, scandals had begun to take their toll, but at the same time the Klan — at least in its original incarnation — had been essentially destroyed. “Peace has come to many places as never before,” declared Frederick Douglass, an ally and admirer of Grant’s. “The scourging and slaughter of our people have so far ceased.” However short-lived, it was an important victory not only for an enlightened version of Reconstruction but also for the beneficial use of the powers of the federal government to promote the general welfare and safety of all Americans, not just some.

As president, Grant appointed a record number of African-Americans to government positions all across the board, including the first black diplomat. Douglass once noted “in one department at Washington I found 249” black appointees, “and many more holding important positions in its service in different parts of the country.” Early in his presidency and at the height of his popularity, Grant had also been a booster of the 15th Amendment, giving former slaves the vote, and many believe his support was key to its ratification by the states, which was far from guaranteed. Grant himself minced no words in describing the magnitude of the amendment’s passage, saying in a message to Congress upon its ratification, “The adoption of the 15th Amendment ... constitutes the most important event that has occurred, since the nation came into life.” He knew the right to vote is the heart of democracy and did not hesitate to defend it, a legacy today’s Supreme Court and Republicans in Washington and across the country should embrace, not abandon.

Chernow shows a fine balance in exposing Grant’s flaws and missteps as president, and the ill-fated turn that Reconstruction took after a promising start, while making it clear that Grant’s contributions after Appomattox were as consequential to the survival of our democracy as any that came before. As Americans continue the struggle to defend justice and equality in our tumultuous and divisive era, we need to know what Grant did when our country’s very existence hung in the balance. If we still believe in forming a more perfect union, his steady and courageous example is more valuable than ever.
A guide to GKSR: Click

"Now look here, you Baltic gas passer... "
- Mik, 6/14/08


Nothing is as effective as homeopathy.

I'd rather listen to an hour of Abba than an hour of The Beatles.
- Klaus, 4/29/18
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bachophile
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HOLY CARP!!!
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had it on my wish list, but the las vegas shooting made me start it.

gun culture in america...pretty weird

i live in a country where there are lots of guns, but lots of regulation and just about 0 (non terror) gun violence






"I don't know much about classical music. For years I thought the Goldberg Variations were something Mr. and Mrs. Goldberg did on their wedding night." Woody Allen
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Klaus
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HOLY CARP!!!
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This is the story of an editor of the "Guardian" who is a hobby pianist and decides to learn Chopin's Gm Ballade.
Trifonov Fleisher Klaus Sokolov Zimmerman
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Horace
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HOLY CARP!!!
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As a good person, I implore you to do as I, a good person, do. Be good. Do NOT be bad. If you see bad, end bad. End it in yourself, and end it in others. By any means necessary, the good must conquer the bad. Good people know this. Do you know this? Are you good?
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