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Celebrating the Life

The Great Escape

[Longhorn Review] The Great Escape

Material Type: All, Books — Tags: Escape, pilots, prisoner, Steve McQueen, War, WWII — Posted on May 2, 2011, 3:38 pm

By: John Sturges

Masculinity in the United States is a big issue regarding the persona of millions
of men in the nation and this film can attest to that notion. This light hearted and
fun oriented war drama is far from the usual drama that we think of. It follows a
band of American and British Air Force officers who in the past have tried numerous
attempts to escape prison camps. As the German Luftwaffe Colonel von Luger stated “I
have all of the rotten eggs in one basket”, this predicament turns out to be in
favor of the allied prisoners due in part to all of the expertise that these guys
contribute to escaping the facility.

This particular film is full of well-known
actors including Richard Attenborough (old guy from Jurassic Park), Charles Bronson,
and the King of Cool Steve McQueen. The film is full of things to describe men
during the time period that this film debuted. Take all the clichés of what men do
such as patting a baseball with gloves, smoking cigarettes, etc and what you have is
this film. It essentially epitomizes the MAN or what every guy should be. They even
throw in lighthearted jokes regarding countries such as the scene in which the
Americans celebrate the 4Th of July. They march up to their British partners in
colonial clothing and straight up tell them “down with the British, and join us by
having a drink.”

Based on a true story, this film revolves around a plan of escaping
the German stronghold by digging a series of tunnels underneath the compound by the
use of ingenious techniques. Then using gathered expertise from the population of
the prisoners, they devise what to do after escaping the facility. Clichés include
Lt. Hendley (Garner), an American who can scrounge up anything and use his charisma
to befriend German officers, and Danny Velinski (Bronson) as the “ tunnel king” who
has a bravado and sensitive side to his character.

Even though the main plot of this
film was about digging tunnels and escaping an impossible Nazi German prison, it
very much centers on Steven McQueen and the character that he embodies. McQueen
essentially symbolizes the American way and is very much seen through the motorcycle
scenes where he cruises through the German countryside, taking bold approaches, and
using his wits to outsmart the Germans. Very much manly throughout the film, his
tough guy persona takes a turn towards the end of the film where he gets himself
into a tough situation. This reveals the true moment of the movie and becomes one of
the most memorable scenes in film history.

Reviewer: Daniel Lam

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The Terminator (1984)

[Longhorn Review] The Terminator (1984)

Material Type: All, Books — Tags: james cameron, orion pictures, terminator — Posted on May 2, 2011, 3:37 pm

By: James Cameron

The Terminator Film Review

The Terminator movie series represents an icon in
American cinematic history. Regardless of age or gender, The Terminator employs many
different elements of film that make the movie a classic within the hearts of fans
across the nation. This is the movie that boosted new comer's Arnold
Schwarzenegger’s career, made director James Cameron a name in Hollywood, and gave
new meaning to a possible dark future that gave viewers nightmares about hostile
robot takeovers. Regardless of flaws present in the movie, The Terminator is a
highly entertaining film that should be seen by movie lovers everywhere.

The Terminator contains many cinematic elements that add to the movie’s unique appeal to
a large audience, which contributed to the film’s success during the 1980’s. The
story is about an evil cyborg, the Terminator (played by Arnold Schwarzenegger),
from the future that travels back in time in order to kill the mother, Sarah Connor
(Linda Hamilton), of the man who leads a rebellion against the machines. In
addition, a freedom fighter, Kyle Reese (played by Michael Biehn), also goes back in
time in order to save Sarah Connor from the Terminator. The film contains a gripping
blend of romance, action, and horror. Scenes of the Terminator brutally killing his
victims in the search for Sarah Connor are supplemented with the romantic
relationship between Sarah Connor and Kyle Reese. This makes the movie more
appealing to a mass audience by adding more substance to the film that goes beyond
gunfights and car chases. However, certain scenes of combat might get repetitive for
some viewers during the movie. The multiple car chase scenes in the film have the
same general formula; the Terminator finds and shoots at Reese and Connor followed
by a narrow escape by the protagonists. Nevertheless, the action scenes are very
exhilarating and employ special effects that are a focal point in the film.

The cast
of characters also represents the perfect portrayal for the plot and setting of the
film. Schwarzenegger plays the Terminator character to perfection by displaying
robotic characteristics with little to no emotion, and makes the cold bloodied
cyborg killer very believable. Furthermore, Linda Hamilton plays the role of Sarah
Connor perfectly by properly demonstrating character development. She transitions
from a terrified individual to a confident character that is capable of holding her
own even against the evil cyborg. Michael Biehn lives up to the character of Kyle
Reese by displaying the brave and protective qualities that make Reese a central
figure in the Terminator.

The Terminator represents the first movie in a series that
will always be seen as a timeless classic in motion picture. The combination of
action, romance, excellent special effects, and character development makes it easy
to recommend this movie to anyone who appreciates a gripping film.

The Terminator . James Cameron. Orion Pictures, 1984. Film.

Reviewer: Rushi Patel

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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

[Longhorn Review] Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Material Type: All, Books — Tags: bilsdungsroman, fantasy. young adult, magic, wizardry — Posted on May 2, 2011, 3:36 pm

By: J.K. Rowling

After years of anticipation, the final piece to the Harry Potter puzzle has been
placed and fortunately, it fills the gap perfectly. Avid fans have been awaiting the
release of this book for years and it is safe to say that they will not be
disappointed. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is the seventh and final book to
the internationally acclaimed Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling. The series
revolves around a trio of best friends– Harry Potter, Ronald Weasley, and Hermione
Granger– who together fight the Dark Arts in efforts to destroy the evil Lord
Voldemort. It is a bildungsroman novel. Rowling wraps up the series in this last
book, answering many questions and yet still leaving some up to the viewer’s
imagination. She does this seamlessly and many will be left with a sense of
resolution that they’ve been expecting after such an epic storyline.

Each book
throughout the series grows increasingly darker. Not only does the plot move away
from the detailed depictions of life at Hogwarts that were present in the first few
books in the series, but vivid details of Harry’s journey with his best friends
become directed towards violence and mortality. No longer is Harry competing for
approval from his fellow schoolmates nor is he battling to win the Qudditch Cup for
his House. In The Deathly Hallows, Harry, along with Ron and Hermione, battle Lord
Voldemort’s regime that has surreptitiously infiltrated the Ministry of Magic. He
also bravely takes on Dumbledore’s previous task of finding and destroying
Voldemort’s Horcruxes. Throughout the book, Harry endures a sequence of struggles
that no seventeen-year-old wizard should ever have to undergo. The weight of the
burden of his destiny with Voldemort slowly deteriorates Harry’s impetus and cloaks
him a cloud of doubt; however, he never gives up, and ultimately his unwavering
determination leads him to triumph.

Rowling does an impressive job of tying all the
loose ends that were left in The Half Blood Prince. Readers learn more about the
story behind the valuable locket from the previous book as well as learn about
Dumbledore’s dark past that was previously hidden from the audience. We see the
development in Ron and Hermione’s relationship. We discover the truth behind Snape
and his motives as well as his childhood. Several characters die and many have
matured into unexpected characters. There are plenty of duels and many scenes filled
with tragedy. Fortunately for readers, Rowling leaves an epilogue that will leave
many very happy.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows exceeds all expectation, and
possibly is the best one in the series. The book leaves readers transfixed and the
plot is filled with exciting twists and surprises. There is a reason as to why the
Harry Potter series has become a cultural phenomenon. The series may have ended, but
the adulation and enchantment that comes from reading the books will forever live

Reviewer: Vy Nguyen

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The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

[Longhorn Review] The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Material Type: All, Books — Tags: Adventure, mystery, Niels Arden Oplev, Stieg Larson, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo — Posted on May 2, 2011, 3:36 pm

By: Niels Arden Oplev

The film, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, was definitely a film that kept me on
the edge of my seat wondering what was coming next, that is after it got into the
plot anyway. At the same time it had me covering my eyes in disgust at many of the
scenes. There are several extreme rape and violence scenes, of which I have never
been exposed to before. Perhaps I am naive in the movie realm, but there were some
disturbing scenes and actions in this movie. I believe the director, Niels Arden
Oplev, took advantage of these scenes, also included in the book, to make the movie
more interesting and exciting.

A subject that I usually try to keep from my mind,
violence against women, was strongly brought out in this movie. Stemming from the
book, it seems as though the original author of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
wished to show that violence against women is common in Sweden. This is specifically
shown through the life of Lisbeth Salander, who we see is abused sexually and
physically several times throughout the movie. As I mentioned before, these were
hard scenes to endure. One of which shows her being brutally raped by her mentor,
Nils Bjurman, and does not leave much to the imagination. Also, the film includes
tales of what one character, I won’t reveal who, does to women, which I believe are
unspeakable things and I almost wish I had not been exposed to them.

The excitement
and mystery of the plot makes up somewhat for all the disturbing scenes as Mikael
Blomkvist and later Lisbeth Salander try to solve the 40 year old mystery of Harriet
Vanger’s disappearance. Blomkvist begins this job after being hired by Henrick
Vanger, a family member in the great clan of the Vanger Company. It is suspected
that someone in the family has killed Harriett. Blomkvist and Salander go through
many scenarios of what could have happened to her, which all seem favorable, until
they lead to a dead end. The real conclusion, one you would never expect, is the
most fascinating. I believe it is also the most disturbing of them all. Unless you
have read the book, you will not know what really happened until right before the
very clever Blomkvist and Salander figure it out.

In comparison to the book, there
are several big plot points left out and the plot develops much faster in the movie,
making for a more enjoyable watch. It is about halfway through the book when
Blomkvist makes his first discovery, contrasting to only thirty minutes into the
movie. Also, it is easier to read about these disturbing scenes than to have to see
them with your own eyes. At least with the book, you can edit them in your mind and
see more of what you chose to see. Perhaps this wasn’t what the author, Stieg
Larsson, or the director of the movie, Oplev, intended for the mind to do.

Oplev, Niels Arden, dir. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. 2009. Music Box Films, 2009.

Reviewer: Mary Ann McKenzie

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The Wild One

[Longhorn Review] The Wild One

Material Type: All, Books — Posted on May 2, 2011, 3:35 pm

By: Frank Rooney

The Wild One was released in 1954 and stirred up a lot of controversy during its
time. Some argue that it is responsible for the black leather jacket stereotype
often associated with bikers, while others argue it is a counter culture movie that
begs for people to be different. Some feared it would have a negative impact on
society and as such it was banned in some European countries for many years. The
movie stared Marlin Brando as a typical motorcycle person with long sideburns, a
tilted jacket, and riding a 1950 Triumph Thunderbird 6T.

While the overall message
of the film is unclear, it is an entertaining and relatively short movie. It starts
off with a quote “This is a shocking story. It could never take place in most
American towns – but it did in this one.” The beginning part of the movie shows
Marlon Brando as being intrigued by a young beautiful store clerk. He flirts with
her and even goes so far as to offer her a trophy he stole from someone else. She
claims she cannot accept the trophy because he won it and he simply cannot give it
away. As the movie progresses the two seem to flirt with each other both directly
and indirectly, although they do not seem to flirt with each at the same time. In
the middle of the movie he takes her for a ride on his motorcycle and proceeds to
tell him about what seems to be a sexual fantasy. In the fantasy a store customer
comes into the store to buy something and falls in love with her and proceeds to
take her somewhere she has never been. Eventually he does not seem to enjoy her
company but as she leaves he goes to talk to her and to the local townspeople it
appears he is trying to take advantage of her. They then take him captive and beat
him and he eventually ends up in court where the girl defends him. He is released of
charges and ordered to leave the town.

The movie is a good watch and offers a lot of
insight into the culture of the 1950’s. It is interesting to see how culture today
may have been impacted by this movie since its message seems to be a celebration of
free spirited people enjoying life. At times it is clear that Brando is being to
confrontational but the movie is made in such a way that you get a deeper
appreciation for why Marlon Brando acts the way he does. Some argue that the movie
is about a rebellious teen that is abused by society. I would have to agree to that
point, but I will leave it up to the audience to decide the moral and social message
of the movie. It is undoubtedly an entertaining movie and I would recommend it to
anyone interested in good classic films that take appreciation of ideas.

Reviewer: Jonathan Snyder

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Rumble Fish

[Longhorn Review] Rumble Fish

Material Type: All, Books — Posted on May 2, 2011, 3:34 pm

By: S.E. Hinton

Two Tough and Thoughtful Guppies

Review on Rumble Fish novel by S.E. Hinton

Rumble Fish was the third book written by S.E. Hinton, a female author known for
adopting a male perspective in most of her novels and short stories starring violent
and troubled teenagers. In Rumble Fish she introduces us to Rusty-James, a violent
fifteen year old, boy hung up on trying to bring back the gangs and “rumbles,”
literally fighting his way through each day. Because of parental neglect, poverty,
and violence Rusty-James finds himself clinging to the memory of the gangs in the
past, trying to reach the notoriety his famous brother, The Motorcycle Boy, had
obtained in the city. Both brothers are curious specimens of isolation products of
their social environment. Rusty-James is a young man trying to belong and The
Motorcycle Boy is a young man who does not want to belong.

The use of symbols is
evident throughout the book to develop these two complex characters and their
attitudes toward their world. The Motorcycle Boy is partially deaf and colorblind
due to the accidents he suffers on his various escapes on stolen motorcycles. This
deaf and colorblindness keeps him from seeing the colorful lights of the parties and
nightlife that Rusty-James is so attracted. His deafness also keeps him from hearing
Rusty-James’s comments on the things he does not see or hear because of his
condition. The motorcycle is The Motorcycle Boy’s escape and freedom from the slump
he lives in. He steals them and leaves days in a row but always has to come back for
reasons which the reader is left to assume, his love for his brother or the lack of
money to leave long enough. Rusty-James always alludes to the color of his hair and
eyes that is very unique to him and his brother, however, the essence of The
Motorcycle Boy reflected in the way he “sees through” people contorts his face, and
attitude that their physical similarities undermines the larger difference in their
philosophy of life. Last but not least are the rumble fish kept in separate bowls.
“Siamese fighting fish. They try to kill each other. If you leaned a mirror against
the bowl they’d kill themselves fighting their own reflection.” The Siamese fighting
fish represent the individual fighting spirit of each boy that keeps them from
fitting into their society and finding a meaning in their life.

The theme and plot
in the story remind me of The Catcher in the Rye in which we are also presented with
an antihero, Holden Caulfield. In both stories the reader drifts through the days of
the main character witnessing the thoughtlessness of their actions and the
character’s suppression of the feelings and realizations that new experiences bring.
Contrary to the manner in which the characters express their seamlessly defiant and
unchanged views and manner toward life, the reader understands that there is a
change happening within the character that does not have to be addressed through
their thoughts or their dialogue, but rather is presented in a matter of fact yet
subtle manner. Both of these pieces leave the reader with an open ending that can
drive one insane with speculation of why anyone would float through life in such a
manner. Both of these works are wonderful short books, yet very insightful to the
meaning of life especially through their perspective on the years in which human
nature seems to drive one to recklessness. Rumble Fish is a great read and trying to
evaluate what propels one’s own life and actions and gives an insight to the lives
of those we might never understand, the cool kids who can’t live for the future due
to paranoia and instead see life as a rumble.

Reviewer: Sara Cabral

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Second Variety

[Longhorn Review] Second Variety

Material Type: All, Books — Posted on May 2, 2011, 2:33 pm

By: Philip K. Dick

Philip K. Dick, considered a huge influence on modern-day science fiction, has
struck literary gold with his work, “Second Variety.” Short and sweet, “Second
Variety” has just enough fat and gristle to make clear the author’s point, and no
more. Some of the audience of “Second Variety” will inevitably claim the trivial
idea that Dick was making a comment on the current society he saw, and the possible
future it led to. After all, “Second Variety” was published in 1953, as the Cold
War’s pace began to pick up. Dick even uses the very entities of the reality of the
Cold War as the two sides of the war that his apocalyptic story occurs in. However,
in my opinion, this kind of thought undermines the real theme of “Second Variety.”

Dick’s work drives home his overarching theme : “who is human and who only appears
(masquerading) as human?.” He carefully weaves this theme into his short story with
the precision of a skilled craftsman. It becomes apparent that this theme is vastly
important to Dick, as he devotes an entire novel, Do Androids Dream of Electric
Sheep? to it. Similarly set in a post nuclear war society, this novel parallels the
themes of “Second Variety” as Dick explores heavily the idea of what it means to be

To go into further detail, as we explore the world of “Second Variety”, 3 of
our 4 main characters - Tasso, Klaus, and Rudi each claim to be a Russian soldier.
When our 4th main character, Hendricks (the American) meets up with them, he
discovers just how grave the situation with the Claws, the killer robots, has
become. To make matters worse, there are types of Claws yet unknown. Each of these
types is called a Variety, and hence the name of the story. Each soldier begins to
suspect the other, and this mistrust leads to the inevitable betrayal that can only
follow when one fears for his or her life. As Dick assigns very human actions to
each of them (for example, they each long for a cigarette, of which Hendricks is
hesitant to share), it becomes increasingly difficult to tell which of the Russians
the author will lead us to believe is the sought after Second Variety.

Reading this story is an experience that any science fiction fan would not soon forget. This
story has a huge amount of positives. It is engaging, easy to read, fast-paced and
exciting. It has mystery and suspense that will have you sitting on the edge of your
chair. However, in my opinion, it is also intellectual. Many have seen it as an
indictment of the Cold War, but it is also so much more. It asks the big questions,
probing human nature and what it means to be a human.

Reviewer: Matt

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Arturo Rivas Sainz cultural project: "Summa"

[Longhorn Review] Arturo Rivas Sainz cultural project: "Summa"

Material Type: All, books — Posted on April 25, 2011, 4:07 pm


After editing magazines like "Eos" (1944) and "Xallixtlico" (1950) Rivas Sainz
founded Summa, possibly the most prestigous cultural magazine, next to Adalberto
Navarro Sánchez`s "Et caetera", during the second half of the 2oth century in
Guadalajara. "Summa" features some of the brightest writers during this period,
despite its chaotic format.

Reviewer: Pedro Valderrama

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Political intelligence in the Internal Revenue Service : the Special Service Staff : a documentary analysis / prepared by the staff of the Subcommittee on Constitutional Rights of the Committee on the Judiciary, United States Senat

[Longhorn Review] Political intelligence in the Internal Revenue Service : the Special Service Staff : a documentary analysis / prepared by the staff of the Subcommittee on Constitutional Rights of the Committee on the Judiciary, United States Senate, Ninety-third Congress, second session.

Material Type: All, Books — Tags: constitution, ervin, irs — Posted on April 25, 2011, 4:04 pm

By: U.S. Congress Subcommittee on Constitutional Rights

I call this "the book that doesn't exist." "Political Intelligence in the IRS.."
is actually the complete 1974 investigation report by the U.S. Congress into the
secret IRS intelligence gathering unit. Congressman Sam Ervin, Jr who directed the
investigation considered this unit the "greatest internal threat to our
constitutional rights."

This book is the only government record and acknowledgment
of the secret IRS unit called the Special Service Staff which went after U.S.
citizens because of their exercise of their 1st amendment rights. Congressman Sam
Ervin, Jr directed his committee to investigate after he found no trace of the group
listed at IRS. The same is true today because the Library of Congress does not show
that this book exists. (Good luck getting your own personal copy).

The book shows
that the Nixon White House gave the IRS the idea to use the tax agency for revenge
and retaliation based on what a citizen said. The investigation by the Subcommittee
on Constitutional Rights started about May 21, 1973 and lasted about eighteen
months. The well-written letters and summaries by the late Congressman Sam Ervin, Jr
give you a glimpse into what he considered the "perversion" of the tax agency. My
favorite is Chairman Ervin's May 13, 1974 letter (page 205) listing his reasons to
subpoena the IRS Commissioner for a lack of cooperation with the investigation.

IRS responded to the investigation by claiming the unit was disbanded. However, in 2008,
I traced the secret unit to the IRS criminal investigation division (IRS-CI) after
the 2008 death of a tax protester in Austin, Tx. This was a couple of years before
Joe Stack attacked the Austin IRS in a suicide attack. The 1974 report shows that
the FBI who worked with the IRS secret unit also absorbed their similar unit into
their criminal investigation.

Reviewer: Sara Black

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Tradition and innovation: Sicily between Hellenism and Rome

[Longhorn Review] Tradition and innovation: Sicily between Hellenism and Rome

Material Type: All, books — Tags: Ancient rome, Roman history, Sicily history — Posted on March 9, 2011, 2:59 pm


Title seems so promising but the initial text (as far as I could stand) is
incoherent. What is this publisher thinking? GoogleTranslate could have done a
better job of translating this from whatever the original language was. Would have
sent it back for a refund if I could have.

Reviewer: SW

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