Andrew’s Top 20 Albums of 2012

No, there’s no Kesha, Maroon 5, or Carly Rae Jepsen on this list, and that’s how I like it. This list, at the moment anyway, reflects what I feel to be the best albums released in the year 2012. I’ve listened to a ton of albums this year, so this represents just a small smattering of what I feel to be the best. Most of these albums have an in depth review on this very blog, so check it out! Also, many of these albums appear on Donovan’s top ten list, and rather than re-inventing the (idler) wheel, I copied his descriptions for those albums because he’s right.   20.  Ben Folds Five – The Sound Of The Life Of… Read More →

Book Review: Blindness

Blindness by José Saramago; translated by Giovanni Pontiero (New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011.  672 pp.) José Saramago was a Nobel Prize-winning author from Portugal. He passed away at the age of 87 on June 18, 2010. Although Saramago did not receive widespread recognition until he was 60 years old, he has been highly prolific in the years since. Blindness, one of Saramago’s most highly regarded books was made into a major motion picture in 2008. He is survived by his wife Pilar Del Rio and a daughter from a previous marriage. Giovanni Pontiero (10 February 1932 – 10 February 1996) was a British scholar and translator of Portuguese fiction, most notably the works of José Saramago. His translation of… Read More →

Book Review: The Quiet American

The Quiet American by Graham Greene (New York: The Penguin Group, 2012. 208pp) Graham Greene (1904–1991) worked as a journalist and critic, and was later employed by the foreign office. His many books include The Third Man, The Comedians and Travels with My Aunt . He is the subject of an acclaimed three-volume biography by Norman Sherry. Try Again Graham Greene’s The Quiet American was originally published in 1956, and was twice adapted into a film (one which starred Sir Michael Cain, the one I love). In a moment of confession, I read the book in college, quickly became bored with it, and then watched the film instead in order to get some assignments finished. But a few weeks back, I ran… Read More →

Film Review: Brave

Brave written and directed by Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman (Walt Disney Pictures, Pixar Animation Studios, PG, 93 minutes) Starring Kelly Macdonald, Billy Connolly and Emma Thompson. High Expectations The Pixar production company did it to themselves. They created a world of high expectations, of high groundbreaking moments one after another characterized by original films like Toy Story, Finding Nemo, Wall-E, and UP. Parents and adults have loved the cheeky stories which integrate a lovely plot as well as some slightly hidden adult humor. By setting the bar so high, however, they’ve set themselves up for failure. Brave, sadly, is the beginning of the failure. The Story Unfolds A traditional Disney storyline is presented in Brave, where a princess, king, queen, and three young princes are a slightly… Read More →

Book Review: Money, Greed, and God

Money, Greed, and God: Why Capitalism Is the Solution and Not the Problem by Jay W. Richards (New York: HarperOne, 2009. 272 pp) Jay Richards, Ph.D., is a Senior Fellow of the Discovery Institute where he directs the Center on Wealth, Poverty, and Morality, and is a Visiting Scholar at the Institute for Faith, Work & Economics. The Complicated Relationship between Money and the Church The church holds a complicated relationship with capitalism. On one side, it praises business for its instrumental purpose within its walls. Business creates wealth which, in turn, funnels into Church programs through the donations of the congregation. At the same time, business operates under self-interest, a seemingly anti-Christian position asserting “Greed is good”. What is… Read More →

Book Review: Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands

Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands: People in Need of Change Helping People in Need of Change by Paul David Tripp (Phillipsburg: P&R Publishing, 2002.  348 pp) Paul David Tripp is a counselor and faculty member at the Christian Counseling & Educational Foundation in Glendale, Pa. and a lecturer in practical theology at Westminster Theological Seminary. How People Change vs. Instruments As a review of How People Change has already been written on this blog, I felt it necessary to review its companion Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands.  The first thing that is needed to be said is that if you read How People Change, you should have read this book instead. How People Change focuses on the hard circumstances in life and how… Read More →

Film Review: Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter written by Seth Grahame-Smith, directed by Timur Bekmambetov (Abraham Productions, Bazelevs Production, Tim Burton Productions, R, 105 minutes) Starring  Benjamin Walker, Rufus Sewell and Dominic Cooper. “History prefers legends to men; it prefers nobility to brutality, soaring speeches to quiet deeds. History remembers the battle and forgets the blood. Whatever history remembers of me, if it remembers anything at all, it should only be a fraction of the truth, for whatever else I am, a husband, a lawyer, a president, I shall always think of myself as a man who struggled against darkness” – Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter Why Not? I watched Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter because it was close to Halloween, and it seemed like a not-so-serious movie that I could “enjoy”… Read More →

Album Review: Babel

Babel by Mumford & Sons (Island Records, 2012. 52 minutes) More Banjo! I’ve been listening to two albums almost non-stop for about a week now, and the two could not be more diametrically opposed to one another. The first, embodied in this review is the new Mumford & Sons album, Babel. I have mixed feelings about the album, and the first is encapsulated by a fake quote a friend of mine posted as his Facebook status. “You know what this song needs? More banjo!” – Mumford & Sons The statement, while tongue-in-cheek, is incredibly true. The stereotypical Mumford sound is formulaic at its best. This bugs me. It probably bugs me because I’m an intellectual hipster at my core, and… Read More →

Book Review: Embassytown

Embassytown by China Miéville (New York: Del Rey, 2011. 345 pp) China Miéville is the author of several notable novels, including King Rat, Perdido Street Station, The Scar, Iron Council, and Un Lun Dun. He describes his own work as “weird fiction.” He teaches creative writing at Warwick University, and is active in the Socialist Workers Party in his home country of England. In the Mood for Weird For some reason, I was in the mood for some China Miéville. Having previously read an earlier novel, Kraken, I wanted to take a stab at a well known, mind-bending science fiction thriller. Miéville’s Embassytown has three parts two it: a political thriller, a civil war tale, and a commentary on the use of language. The latter is what interested me the… 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 →