Friday, October 3, 2014

Choose Your Own Autobiography by Neil Patrick Harris

Neil Patrick Harris has a hilarious and original audiobook out titled CHOOSE YOUR OWN AUTOBIOGRAPHY, which he reads himself on audio. A special PDF included has recipes and a crossword puzzle. That's a first. He's pulled off the ultimate Selfie: not only is it about him, but it's about you becoming him. The adaptation of the print book by Harris is read by, well, Barney Stinson and Doogie Howser (along with other alter egos,) and is naturally the best way to “read” an audiobook because you get to enjoy his comedic timing while imagining those skills to be your own as you travel on his yellow brick road to fame…or infamy. He also gets help with these egos from award-winning English actor/narrator Simon Prebble, who lends ironic dignity to the otherwise "always on" hyperbole. So it's a traditional biography, but on steroids. Or pixie dust. He describes riding in Rolls with Elton John in France, hosting multiple awards shows, being in dozens of made-for-TV movies, along with other movies from Starship Troopers to Harold & Kumar to The Next Best Thing (with Madonna) to Broadway shows. He also has a spot in Gone Girl, and is next slated to star in a Pixar feature The Good Dinosaur in 2015. My question is, where does he find the time to write books, amid all his other projects? Next, after hearing Ronald Kessler’s audiobook FIRST FAMILY DETAIL, I’m wondering if they shouldn’t call it The WHITEWASH House. Kessler updates information previously covered in “In the President’s Secret Service” and “Inside the White House” with new revelations. The information comes from present and former Secret Service agents, some of whom were told not to cooperate with the journalist when it was learned he was writing this book. Was Richard Nixon a sociopath? All the traits were there: charming, ruthless, opportunistic, and dismissive of critics and dying soldiers. Johnson was even more of a klutz than Ford (who was cheap and a bad tipper, while pocketing mini bottles from parties.) Clinton was (and still is?) a horn dog, with multiple mistresses, and always on the prowl. Hillary? She always knew, didn’t care, and didn’t want to hear more and have to face questions. Bill’s presidency was called by agents as “one long pizza party,” in which anyone would show up at any time to throw ideas around, regardless of how it inconvenienced agent planning. Reagan, Bush 41 and George W, (and their wives) were loved by agents for being on time and respectful, while the Clintons were never on time and dismissive. Jenna Bush (codenamed “Twinkle”), though, despised being watched by agents, and snuck out whenever she wanted with her sister. (Remember the movie First Daughter starring Katie Holmes?) Vice presidents and their relationships with agents is even more interesting. Joe Biden is described as wasting taxpayer funds by taking over 200 costly trips on jets like Air Force 2 mainly to play golf while “putting America at risk” by not giving the Service sufficient notice of his plans (or being out of contact with nuclear codes.) Al Gore disliked agents too, and he “farted in the limo, and didn’t care.” Agnew was a moral majority icon without morals or ethics himself, willing to take bribes and denigrate those opposing Vietnam as “unAmerican.” Dick Cheney was more of an enigma, but was liked by agents since he was professional and “businesslike.” (Perhaps like at Halliburton?) Regarding Romney’s clash with agents over his protection, and Obama himself, there’s not much until the last hour. And you’ll have to hear that for yourself. All in all, another interesting book by an author interviewed at this site, with lots of information about how the Secret Service operates. Bear in mind that this book mostly takes various agent’s views of who they guard, and doesn’t go much into their policies or the effects of their policies on history and on the future. The Secret Service itself comes into the crosshairs too, in places, as its failures and inefficiency are noted in passing. Recommend the book STREET SMARTS by Quantum Fund founder Jim Rogers, too. This Wall Street commodities legend talks about how the real world works, and why people should switch away from stocks and bonds and into consumables. 

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