Television Show Review: Breaking Bad: Season 5

An Announcement I am pleased to announce that I’ll be contributing reviews occasionally for Fieldnotes Magazine, a recently launched publication providing practical wisdom for emerging leaders. A Review My first review highlights the first half of Breaking Bad: Season 5. Midway through the fifth season of Breaking Bad, a watershed moment occurs—one with familiar but important resonance for those who would lead any enterprise. Anti-hero Walter White (Bryan Cranston) sits upon a newly-established throne as the kingpin of the New Mexico methamphetamine business—merely a year removed from learning of his terminal cancer and devising an illicit plan to earn money for his family upon his passing. So check out my review and give Fieldnotes a follow, it’s an excellent source of content!

Book Review: Cloud Atlas

Cloud Atlas: A Novel by David Mitchell (New York: Random House, 2004. 528 pp) David Mitchell is an English author most noted for his fiction. He attended University of Kent earning a degree in English and American Literature as well as an M.A. in Comparative Literature. Mitchell’s debut novel, Ghostwritten, won the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize. His next two novels, Number9dream and Cloud Atlas found themselves on the Man Booker Prize shortlist. Cloud Atlas has been adapted into a feature film. A Kaleidoscope of Ambiguity How does it feel moments after newly opened puzzle pieces cascade out of the box? The colorful mélange sits nestled on the table—a kaleidoscope of ambiguity, the box your only clue to the end goal…. Read More →

Book Review: The Blind Assassin

The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood (New York: Nan A. Talese, 2000. 521 pp) Born in Ottawa in the autumn of 1939, Margaret Atwood grew up in Ontario, Quebec, and Toronto. She attained her B.A. from Victoria College, University of Toronto and her M.A. from Radcliffe College. Atwood has written more than 50 works of poetry, children’s fiction, fiction, and non-fiction. While she is most known for her many novels, her book, Blind Assassin, received highest acclaim winning the prestigious Booker Prize in 2000. Currently, she lives with Graeme Gibson in Toronto. A Narrative in Many Threads Thus begins Margaret Atwood’s The Blind Assassin. A complicated narrative mixing the autobiography of the novel’s protagonist, excerpts from Laura the sister’s novel and newspaper clippings detailing the major events in… Read More →

Book Review: Brain Rules

Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School by John Medina (Seattle: Pear Press, 2008. 301 pp) John Medina is a development molecular biologist and research consultant. He is an affiliate Professor of Bioengineering at the University of Washington School of Medicine. He is also the director of the Brain Center for Applied Learning Research at Seattle Pacific University. In Pursuit of Learning  Can we, as human beings, learn better? We go through grade school, middle school, high school, college, perhaps even graduate work without ever questioning if we are learning optimally. As a person who seeks to learn continuously and realizing I won’t remember every piece of information imparted to me in my lifetime,… Read More →

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 →