Film Review: Cloud Atlas

Cloud Atlas

Cloud Atlas written and directed by Lana and Andy Wachowski and Tom Tykwer (Cloud Atlas Productions, X-Filme Creative Pool, Anarchos Production, Warner Bros. Pictures, R, 172 min) Starring Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent, Hugo Weaving, Jim Sturgess, Doona Bae, Ben Whishaw, Keith David, and James D’Arcy. All Circles Begin Where They End While the validity of reincarnation is not a topic within the scope of my expertise, or a principle for which I have any reason to contend its cogency, the ways in which our current actions influence future generations offers genuine  intrigue. Consider an obvious example, the resources used by society take time to replenish, if at all. Logging a tree to construct a house means the tree, as a… Read More →

Album Review: Trouble Will Find Me

Trouble Will Find Me by The National

Trouble Will Find Me by The National (4AD, 2013. 55 minutes) The National is Matt Berninger, Aaron Dessner, Bryce Dessner, Scott Devendorf, and Bryan Devendorf. The band has released 6 full-length albums. Let It Be When you find yourself in times of trouble, what comes to you? What speaks words of wisdom? Where do you go? In those dark places where trouble might find us, we all seek our buoys, those things which speak truth to our soul. Perhaps it’s a book. Maybe a painting. Potentially a collection of songs? While I personally won’t go so far as to say Trouble Will Find Me is my muse, its content and production make it a front-runner. In short, this album sticks… Read More →

Book Review: The Promise

The Promise by Chaim Potok

The Promise: A Novel by Chaim Potok (New York: Anchor Books, 1969. 384 pp) Chaim Potok was born in Buffalo, New York in 1929. Potok became a rabbi after studying at Jewish Theological Seminary of America. He later received a doctorate in philosophy from the University of Pennsylvania. Potok is known for his best-selling novel, The Chosen. He died in 2002. *Spoiler Alert: This Book Is a Sequel* The Threat of Change The threat of the new ostensibly dominates the thoughts of many conservatives. At a basic level, the conservative line suggests no need for change. Things work well the way they are. What’s the use in transforming? When religion emerges in such debates, the eternal soul is at stake…. Read More →

Album Review: Modern Vampires of the City

Modern Vampires of the City by Vampire Weekend.

Modern Vampires of the City by Vampire Weekend (XL, 2013. 42 minutes) Vampire Weekend is an American rock band from New York formed during the member’s time at Columbia University. The band has released 3 studio albums to critical acclaim. We All Change Whether Evangelical, Catholic, Buddhist, agnostic, or atheist, it seems as if the belief tradition in which you grew up changes with age. Some completely shift from one side of the spectrum to the other; others discover a more nuanced change, keeping the root beliefs but applying them differently. What was once blindly accepted due to parents’ beliefs now becomes something worth testing. Is this belief true? Does it withstand scrutiny and a critical eye? On the other… Read More →

Book Review: NW

NW by Zadie Smith

NW: A Novel by Zadie Smith (New York: The Penguin Press, 2012. 416 pp) Zadie Smith was born in London. She went to King’s College, Cambridge University. Smith has written four novels and earned multiple awards including, the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for Fiction, the Commonwealth Writers’ Best Book Award, and the Orange Prize for Fiction. She is a tenured professor in the Creative Writing Program at New York University. The Power of Place The power of place reverberates much further than any of us dare to admit. While we all hold unique personalities, the broad regions and specific communities around which we orbit influence us profoundly. This reality causes people to offer broad stereotypes for different regions. For… Read More →

Book Review: A Storm of Swords

A Storm of Swords by George R. R. Martin

A Storm of Swords: Booke Three of a Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin (New York: Bantam Books, 2000. 1216 pp) George R. R. Martin is an American author and screenwriter of fantasy, horror, and science fiction. Born in New Jersey, Martin earned a B.S. and M.S. in Journalism from Northwestern University. He began writing fiction in the early 1970s with his first works earning him a Hugo and Nebula award. In the 1980s, he began writing in Hollywood for the Twilight Zone and Beauty and the Beast. Martin is best known for his critically acclaimed epic fantasy series, A Song of Ice and Fire, which was developed into Game of Thrones, an HBO television series. *Spoiler Alert for Previous Books in Effect throughout Review* Marriage is what… Read More →

Book Review: Infinite Jest

Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace

Infinite Jest: A Novel by David Foster Wallace (New York: Little, Brown, and Company, 1996. 1,104 pp) Born in Ithaca, New York, David Foster Wallace was a regionally ranked junior tennis player in his youth. He earned a degree in English and Philosophy from Amherst College, winning the Gail Kennedy Memorial Prize. Later, he earned a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from the University of Arizona. Wallace taught literature at Emerson College, Illinois State University, and later became the Roy E. Disney Professor of Creative Writing and Professor of English at Pomona College. Over the course of his career, he earned a MacArthur Fellowship, the Aga Khan Prize for Fiction, and the Lannan Literary Award. Wallace died in… Read More →

Book Review: In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts

In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts by Gabor Mate, Where Pen Meets Paper, Donovan Richards

In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction by Gabor Maté (Berkely: North Atlantic Books, 2008. 520 pp) Born in 1944 in Budapest, Hungary, Gabor Maté and his family moved to Canada in 1956. Maté earned a B.A. in English from the University of British Columbia and a teaching degree from Simon Fraser University. Later, he returned to school to become a medical doctor. Dr. Maté ran a successful family practice in East Vancouver before taking a position in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside neighborhood. Maté has published 4 books and has earned an Outstanding Alumnus Award from Simon Fraser University and an Honorary Degree from the University of Northern British Columbia. Dr. Maté recently was appointed Adjunct Professor in… Read More →

Album Review: Watch the Throne

Watch the Throne by Jay-Z and Kanye West

Watch the Throne by Jay-Z and Kanye West (Roc-A-Fella, 2011. 46 minutes) Born in Brooklyn, Jay-Z is an American rapper, record producer, and business mogul. He has won 16 Grammys. Kanye West is an artist, producer, fashion designer, and film director, born in Chicago, Illinois. He has won 22 Grammys. Liberation Means Money Liberation: a major theme in literature from marginalized groups. When you don’t have choice, when the institutions and structures seem to operate in opposition to you, your goals, and your culture as a whole, then freedom becomes the cry. Freedom to make decisions without external repercussions. Freedom to practice beliefs, customs, and rites in the open. Freedom to make a living, equal to or better than those… Read More →

Television Show Review: The Office: Season 9

The Office Season 9

The Office: Season 9 created by Ricky Gervais, Stephen Merchant, and Greg Daniels (Reveille Productions, NBC Universal Television, Deedle-Dee Productions) Starring John Krasinski, Jenna Fischer, and Rainn Wilson. Warning: Spoilers ahead for earlier seasons. What has the film crew been doing all these years? Considering its premise—a documentary crew filming an office to depict work-life in America—why would a crew film its subjects for 9 years? Given their intentions, surely no more than a year of footage would suffice? Early in the concluding season of The Office, the viewer discovers the reason for sticking with these employees for so long. The crew remains—and truthfully, we watch—because we all want to know what becomes of Jim (John Krasinski) and Pam (Jenna… Read More →