Television Show Review: Mad Men

Mad Men: Season Five created by Matthew Weiner (Lionsgate Television, Weiner Bros., and American Movie Classics) Starring Jon Hamm, Elisabeth Moss, Vincent Kartheiser, Christina Hendricks, January Jones, John Slattery, Kiernan Shipka, Robert Morse, and Jared Harris. Recommended, Highly  In replacement of a spoiler warning, if you haven’t watched Mad Men, stop reading this review and rent Season One. Actually, before you do so. I need to make sure you’ll like it. There’s nothing worse than highly recommending something that someone doesn’t like. Mad Men is a slow-boiling character-driven drama. If you need a fast-paced plot, death, mystery, and explosions. Steer clear! If you like complex characters, though, you need to watch Mad Men. For Matthew Weiner and company, Season 5… Read More →

Book Review: A Generous Orthodoxy

A Generous Orthodoxy: Why I Am a Missional + Evangelical + Post/Protestant + Liberal/Conservative + Mystical/Poetic + Biblical + Charismatic/Contemplative + Fundamentalist/Calvinist + Anabaptist/Anglican + Methodist + Catholic + Green + Incarnational + Depressed-Yet-Hopeful + Emergent + Unfinished Christian by Brian McLaren (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2004. 352 pp) Brian McLaren, born in 1956, graduated from the University of Maryland with B.A. and M.A. degrees. He taught English before serving as the founding pastor of Cedar Ridge Community Church. Apart from his church duties, McLaren is known for his contributions to the emerging church movement. Time has named McLaren as one of the 25 most influential evangelicals. He is married to Grace McLaren and they have four adult children. A Seminary Kind… Read More →

Book Review: Ambiguous Adventure

Ambiguous Adventure by Cheikh Hamidou Kane; translated by Katherine Woods (Brooklyn: Melville House Publishing, 2012; originally published 1962. 176 pp) Cheikh Hamidou Kane was born the son of a local chief in Senegal in 1928. He studied philosophy and law at the Sarbonne in Paris and later at the École Nationale de la France d’Outre-Mer. While in Paris, Kane wrote Ambiguous Adventure basing it on his experiences. Upon returning to Senegal, he published his novel to considerable acclaim winning the Grand Prix Littéraire d’Afrique Noir. Kane garnered employment in the Senegalese government in multiple ministerial positions. Kane lives in Dakar, Senegal. Besides her translation of Ambiguous Adventure, Katherine Woods is best known for her translation of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s The… Read More →

Book Review: Zeitoun

Zeitoun by Dave Eggers (New York: Vintage Books, 2009. 368 pp) Born in Boston, Massachusetts, Dave Eggers attended the University of Illinois but dropped out to take care of his younger brother in the wake of his parent’s death. These experiences are chronicled in Eggers’ best-selling memoir, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. In addition to published works, he has founded McSweeney’s, an independent publishing house, and 826 National, a nonprofit writing and tutoring center for kids 6-18 in urban areas across the nation. Mistakes We Knew We Were Making Imagine making a colossal mistake. I’m not talking about burning a turkey or showing up late for a date. I’m talking about losing-your-job big. Often times, mistakes at this level… Read More →

Book Review: The Night Circus

The Night Circus: A Novel by Erin Morgenstern (New York: Doubleday, 2011. 400 pp) Erin Morgenstern is a writer and artist. She studied theatre and studio art at Smith College. The Night Circus is Morgenstern’s first published work. She currently lives in Massachusetts. Mind Tricks and Sleight of Hand There’s something wondrous about a magician. Setting aside the cheesy music and the fantastical costumes, the magic trick is mesmerizing. Having been deceived by sleight of hand, I always want to deconstruct the illusion in attempts of learning the trick. However, understanding the guts behind a magician’s work forces the viewer to comprehend the illusions differently. In short, the magic trick loses its luster. With ignorance comes joy as illusions erupt… Read More →

Film Review: Young Adult

Young Adult directed by Jason Reitman written by  Diablo Cody ( (Paramount Pictures, Denver and Delilah Productions, and Indian Paintbrush, R 94 Minutes)  Starring Charlize Theron, Patton Oswalt, and Patrick Wilson. The Glory Days, Or, A Period I’d Soon Forget In my opinion, high school is an odd sociological experiment. For most people, the high school experience is one soon forgotten. Some encounter intense rejection from “popular” groups; others find studying stressful fully understanding the importance of high grades on later success. For others, high school is the apogee in life. High school connects budding social beings in a focused group. Every high school has a “popular” crowd with the whole school orbiting around that social class. Interestingly, certain “popular” kids never find… Read More →

Album Review: Fear Fun

Fear Fun by Father John Misty (Sub Pop Records, 2012. 41 minutes) Father John Misty is the moniker of singer-songwriter and former Fleet Foxes drummer, Joshua Tillman. After dropping out of college, Tillman moved to Seattle and began recording demos. Damien Jurado, a Seattle-based singer-songwriter, discovered Tillman and took the budding songwriter on tour. Tillman has released 7 full-length albums under the name, J. Tillman. After four years of drumming with Fleet Foxes, Tillman has returned to solo work with Fear Fun. The Marketing Narrative  Sometimes, the marketing campaign surrounding a new album dives into the backstory behind said record. Justin Vernon of Bon Iver locked himself in a secluded cabin during a dark, Wisconsin winter to forge For Emma,… Read More →

Book Review: The Big Idea

The Big Idea by Robert Jones (Glasgow: HarperCollinsBusiness, 2000. 218 pp) Robert Jones was born in Gloucester in 1957 and studied Philosophy and English at Cambridge University. He is a director with Wolff Olins, one of the world’s most respected brand consulting firms, and has worked as a consultant in corporate communication for 16 years, with companies such as Andersen Consulting, Cameron McKenna, and the National Trust. He also lectures at Oxford Business School on the marketing of professional service firms. The Shifting Foundations of Business Especially in the latter parts of the 20th Century, the relationship between business and customer circled around an economic exchange. Certainly, factors of quality contributed to purchasing patterns, but above all else, the consumer… Read More →

Book Group: The Bell Jar

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath (New York: Harper Perennial, 2005; originally published in 1971. 288 pp) To Recap The Bell Jar details Esther Greenwood, a college student who travels to New York to work as an editorial intern for a popular magazine. While she should be thoroughly enjoying herself, Esther feels dead inside, largely disconnected from the world. As she lives in New York, she begins to question her abilities as a writer and her future in general, which only causes her to sink into extreme depression. Esther wonders if she should be a typical woman and marry, or pursue a career instead. Esther returns to the Boston suburbs, where she grew up, in the hopes to reawaken herself from… Read More →

Album Review: Beware and Be Grateful

Beware & Be Grateful by Maps & Atlases (Barsuk Records, 2012. 43 minutes) Maps & Atlases is Shiraz Dada, David Davison, Erin Elders, and Chris Hainey. The Chicago-based band blends pop and technical musicianship into a unique flavor of indie rock. In Praise of Songwriting  A good song requires an interesting rhythm and melodically rich instrumentation. Even more, a song requires a catchy melody, which soars over the well-crafted music. Perhaps most importantly, the song needs to say something. “Doo be doo be doo” lyrics might have a catchy melody but they do not provide a modicum of lasting depth. If, by chance, an artist succeeds in all three categories, an impeccable song is born. Good luck writing 9 more… Read More →