An often diverting analysis of the deeper meaning of some odd cultural artifacts.



In this collection of semiserious semiotic essays, Rome (Travel for STOICS, 2018) examines symbols in everyday American life.

Myths, symbols, and archetypes are often associated with the study of dusty works of literature, but they’re also part of our daily existence. Rome aims to point out a few highlights in this new collection, which explores the not-so-obvious symbolic meanings of objects and activities in contemporary American culture. Indoor sky diving, for example, may be an attempt to re-create the ancient dream of flying—whose meaning remains much debated—in waking life. Fidget spinners, she conjectures, could simply be the latest manifestation of a triskelion motif that has appeared in cultures worldwide since the Stone Age. The ancient Hindu concept of the avatar—a material manifestation of a god—has been borrowed by movies, video games, and social media, she notes. As the author writes in her introduction, the book “aspires to be the early third millennium’s answer to [Roland Barthes’] insightful and funny work Mythologies from 1957, which analyzed the processes of modern mythmaking. But although Rome’s prose can sometimes feel academic, it more often reads like good magazine journalism: “The 3-D archery course is strewn with life-sized, self-healing foam models of common game animals, such as deer, elk, boar, and rabbits. Other not-so-common targets include velociraptors, cobras, carp, alligators, baboons, jackalopes, and even zombies.” Winking essay titles, such as “The Roller Coast Ride as Aristotelian Narrative” and “The Eyelash Curler as Monument,” reveal the author’s sense of humor, but she backs them up with well-considered arguments. The essays are short—some are only three or four pages long—and they vary in quality; one, about Segway scooters, for instance, feels closer to a product review than a piece of cultural criticism. Overall, this isn’t a collection for everyone, but those with analytical predilections—and perhaps a liberal arts degree—will find much to intrigue and amuse them. 

An often diverting analysis of the deeper meaning of some odd cultural artifacts.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: 978-0-9678995-4-1

Page Count: 152

Publisher: Blue Morpho Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 4, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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