Book Review: Strength to Love

Strength to Love by Martin Luther King, Jr. (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1963. 192 pp) Born in 1929, Martin Luther King, Jr. was a pastor, activist, and leader of the African-American Civil Rights Movement. King rose to prominence during the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott and orchestrated the 1963 March on Washington where King gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. King earned the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964. He was assassinated in 1968. A Big Deal  Martin Luther King, Jr. is a big deal. I recall learning about his life and his influence on civil rights early and often in grade school. I heard his famous “I Have a Dream” speech long before I knew what it meant. King County—where… Read More →

Album Review: The Idler Wheel…

The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do by Fiona Apple (Clean Slate, Epic, 2012. 43 minutes) Born in New York City, Fiona Apple is a singer-songwriter and pianist. Apple first gained notoriety for her debut album, Tidal, winning a Grammy Award for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance. The Idler Wheel… is Apple’s fourth studio album. Instability  I can’t say I’ve known a truly unstable person and I want to be careful about labeling Fiona Apple as such—I don’t know her and it would be rude to assume. But, I imagine friendship with such a person would be a roller coaster. Words might be volatile;… Read More →

Book Review: Disgrace

Disgrace: A Novel by J. M. Coetzee (New York: Viking, 1999. 224 pp) John Maxwell (J. M.) Coetzee is a Nobel-Prize-winning author of South African descent. He attended St. Joseph’s College and later the University of Cape Town. He later earned a Ph.D. from the University of Texas. While working as an academic, Coetzee began writing novels. In his acclaimed literary career, Coetzee has won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize, three CAN Prizes, the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and became the first author to win two Man Booker Prizes. Disgrace Defined Two Ways Isn’t it funny how often people associate disgrace and shame with being caught in the act? It seems, often times, shame and… Read More →

Film Review: The Damned United

The Damned United directed by Tom Hooper; written by Peter Morgan and David Peace (Columbia Pictures, BBC Films, Screen Yorkshire, R, 98 minutes) Starring Michael Sheen, Timothy Spall, and Colm Meaney. The Real Football So I really love football. I don’t mean American football—the NFL is great and I enjoy it thoroughly but it is not the subject of this review. I mean actual football—fútbol to some, soccer to others. Despite my affinity to the sport, I am rather new to the game. I am able to discuss, in detail, the current teams, tactics, and players but I haven’t a clue about the legends of years past. For this reason, The Damned United interests me. It depicts the tumultuous and… Read More →

Book Review: The Plague

The Plague by Albert Camus; translated by Stuart Gilbert (New York: Vintage International, 1948. 320 pp) Born in French Algeria, Albert Camus was a renowned author and philosopher. He attended the University of Algiers. Camus is best known for his novels, The Plague and The Stranger as well as his view of absurdism in philosophy. He won the Nobel Prize in literature in 1957 and died in a car accident in 1960. Stuart Gilbert was an English literary scholar and translator. He translated into English works from André Malraux, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Georges Simenon, Jean Cocteau, Albert Camus, and Jean-Paul Sartre. Awaiting the Big One It seems every couple of years, a potential pandemic arises. Whether swine or bird flu,… Read More →

Book Review: 1Q84: Book Three

1Q84: Book Three by Haruki Murakami (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2011. 1184 pp) Born in 1949 in Japan, Haruki Murakami studied drama at Waseda University. He began writing fiction at the age of 29, inspired to write a novel while watching a baseball game. Murakami earned literary fame with his best-selling novel, Norwegian Wood. In the wake of its success, he earned writing fellowships at Princeton University and Tufts University. Murakami has won the Franz Kafka Prize, the Kiriyama Prize, the Yomiuri Prize, the Jerusalem Prize, and the International Catalunya Prize. Check out reviews for Book One and Book Two. Do We Need the Answers? I recently confabulated with a friend about the hit television series, Lost. While I… Read More →

Album Review: Ten Stories

Ten Stories by mewithoutYou (Pine Street Collection, 2012. 40 minutes) mewithoutYou is an American rock band from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The band includes Aaron Weiss (vocals), Michael Weiss (guitar), and Rickie Mazzotta (drums) with a carousel of supporting musicians. mewithoutYou signed with Tooth and Nail Records releasing their first four records with the label. Ten Stories is self-released and offers a return to the band’s earlier sound. Circular Narrative “All circles presuppose they’ll end where they begin, but in their leaving can they ever come back round.” – Aaron Weiss adapted from Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit. Looking back on the music that defined my teen years, not much of it carried staying power. I liked ska, but the genre died in… Read More →

Book Review: Design for the Real World

Design for the Real World: Human Ecology and Social Change by Victor Papanek (New York: Pantheon Books, 1971. 394 pp) Born in Vienna, Austria in 1923, Victor Papanek immigrated to the United States to study design and architecture. He earned his B.A. at Cooper Union and his M.A. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Papanek taught design at many institutions worldwide and functioned as a strong advocate for socially and ecologically responsible design. The Many Hues of Charity  It’s very easy to become caught in the notion of charity equaling money. We see disasters on television and nothing seems easier than a monetary contribution from the friendly confines of our couch. Some, however, choose to dive deeper. They see a… Read More →

Book Review: 1Q84: Book Two

1Q84: Book Two by Haruki Murakami (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2011. 1184 pp) Born in 1949 in Japan, Haruki Murakami studied drama at Waseda University. He began writing fiction at the age of 29, inspired to write a novel while watching a baseball game. Murakami earned literary fame with his best-selling novel, Norwegian Wood. In the wake of its success, he earned writing fellowships at Princeton University and Tufts University. Murakami has won the Franz Kafka Prize, the Kiriyama Prize, the Yomiuri Prize, the Jerusalem Prize, and the International Catalunya Prize. Check out my review of Book One. Discerning Between Unenviable Options Often times, life does not provide a right answer. When pondering between two choices, both have pros… Read More →

Film Review: Moonrise Kingdom

Moonrise Kingdom directed by Wes Anderson; written by Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola (Focus Features, Indian Paintbrush, American Empirical Pictures, Moonrise, PG-13, 94 minutes) Starring Kara Hayward, Jared Gilman, Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton, and Jason Schwartzman. The Pains of Growing Up Did you ever try and run away as a kid? It might have been to the end of the street, to a friend’s house, or maybe even farther. Why did you do it? Oppressive parents? An untenable friendship? A bad test at school? Often irrational, this escape can sometimes result from not wanting to grow up. When a child shoulders more responsibility, sometimes it seems easier to flee hoping to return to the… Read More →