A thoroughly amusing collection that takes readers beyond the big top.

Never Quote the Weather to a Sea Lion


An episodic memoir from the founder of the Big Apple Circus, a New York City mainstay of family entertainment for almost 40 years.

Brooklyn-born Binder has lived a colorful and creative life, from stints working for Merv Griffin and Julia Child, to his time as a juggler traveling through Europe, to his life’s greatest work: founding the Big Apple Circus. The book jumps around to hit various key moments in his life, including the moment he first saw the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, the beginning of his jaunt to England to form a juggling act with a friend, and meeting his wife, a beautiful Danish equestrienne and circus performer. The cast of characters includes world-renowned clowns, jugglers, acrobats and other international performers, as well as the technicians and trainers who put the nuts and bolts of such an epic show together. Binder has a knack for language, which shouldn’t be a surprise considering how many years he has spent as a ringmaster and entertainer, juggling words, as well as objects, for his audiences. Some of the insider tales and snippets are a little more mundane than magical; not everyone is going to find a random rainy day or an encounter with a waitress in a small Southern town as interesting and amusing as Binder clearly does. For every dud, however, there are twice as many gems, such as the exciting post–Tiananmen Square drama that led the circus’ Chinese acrobats, who were afraid of being forced to return to their troubled homeland, to run away, bringing the attentions of government agencies and embassies to the Big Apple Circus. With a loving foreword by Glenn Close and celebrity cameos from Robert DeNiro, Robin Williams, Paul Newman and many more, these stories make it easy to see why Binder is a beloved, respected figure in the world of the circus.

A thoroughly amusing collection that takes readers beyond the big top.

Pub Date: April 18, 2013

ISBN: 978-1481731911

Page Count: 216

Publisher: AuthorHouse

Review Posted Online: Aug. 19, 2013

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.


The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

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All right, all right, all right: The affable, laconic actor delivers a combination of memoir and self-help book.

“This is an approach book,” writes McConaughey, adding that it contains “philosophies that can be objectively understood, and if you choose, subjectively adopted, by either changing your reality, or changing how you see it. This is a playbook, based on adventures in my life.” Some of those philosophies come in the form of apothegms: “When you can design your own weather, blow in the breeze”; “Simplify, focus, conserve to liberate.” Others come in the form of sometimes rambling stories that never take the shortest route from point A to point B, as when he recounts a dream-spurred, challenging visit to the Malian musician Ali Farka Touré, who offered a significant lesson in how disagreement can be expressed politely and without rancor. Fans of McConaughey will enjoy his memories—which line up squarely with other accounts in Melissa Maerz’s recent oral history, Alright, Alright, Alright—of his debut in Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused, to which he contributed not just that signature phrase, but also a kind of too-cool-for-school hipness that dissolves a bit upon realizing that he’s an older guy on the prowl for teenage girls. McConaughey’s prep to settle into the role of Wooderson involved inhabiting the mind of a dude who digs cars, rock ’n’ roll, and “chicks,” and he ran with it, reminding readers that the film originally had only three scripted scenes for his character. The lesson: “Do one thing well, then another. Once, then once more.” It’s clear that the author is a thoughtful man, even an intellectual of sorts, though without the earnestness of Ethan Hawke or James Franco. Though some of the sentiments are greeting card–ish, this book is entertaining and full of good lessons.

A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-13913-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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