Book Review: Blueprints of the Afterlife

Blueprints of the Afterlife: A Novel by Ryan Boudinot (New York: Black Cat, 2012. 430pp). Ryan Boudinot is the author of the novel Misconception, as well as The Littlest Hitler, the latter which won the book of the year from Publisher’s Weekly. He is on the faculty of Goddard College’s MFA program in Port Townsend, and blogs about film at therumpus.net. A native of Washington state, he currently lives in the city of Seattle. New York Alki Setting off in mild trepidation down my newfound odyssey of contemporary literature, I have found some amazing novels. Despite my fear, Blueprints of the Afterlife takes home the proverbial first prize. In this weird, somewhat dystopian, mainly dysfunctional, post-apocalyptic world, Ryan Boudinot carefully… Read More →

Film Review: Limitless

Limitless directed by Neil Burger (Relativity Media, Virgin Produced, PG-13, 105 minutes) Starring Bradley Cooper, Robert De Niro, and Abbie Cornish. Lake Wobegon Have you ever felt like life is giving you lemons? I know, personally, that I sometimes struggle with this notion. My perceived talents do not necessarily translate into productive contributions in the world. Whether valid or not, I believe that I can learn anything. While such a belief more than likely illustrates self-deception, I believe that most people think this way. Truthfully, the “Lake Wobegon effect” is a psychologically proven hypothesis. Neil Burger’s Limitlessdelivers a concentrated injection of this sort of hopeful thinking. A Limitless Drug Centered on protagonist, Eddie Morra (Bradley Cooper), Limitless imagines what would… Read More →

Book Review: The Fallback Plan

The Fallback Plan: A Novel by Leigh Stein (New York: Melville House, 2012. 219 pp) Leigh Stein is a first-time author. She lives in New York where she works in children’s book publishing and teaches musical theatre. Her upcoming release, Dispatch from the Future is a collection of poems to be released in June 2012. Prolonged Adolescence As a musically-minded individual teaching choir, I’ve always wondered: what is my fallback plan? What would I do if I couldn’t get a job? I’ve luckily never been thrust into that scenario, but many holding an arts degree are. The sad truth is that the arts degree doesn’t do much in the marketplace. Sure, it helps hone one’s craft; it helps someone to… Read More →

Television Show Review: Dexter: Season 6

Dexter: Season 6 developed by James Manos, Jr. (Showtime Networks, John Goldwyn Productions, The Colleton Company) Starring Michael C. Hall, Jennifer Carpenter, Lauren Vélez, David Zayas, James Remar, and C.S. Lee. I Might Be an Anglophile Without intentionally positioning myself as an anglophile, I appreciate the reserve under which English television operates. No matter how massive the hit, English writers and producers understand that quality trumps quantity. As such, these television professionals would rather sacrifice paychecks than integrity. Not so in the good ol’ U.S. of A. Case in point, the best episodes of Showtime’s hit series, Dexter, exist in its rear-view mirror. With Season 6, the viewer continues on a plot development holding pattern. The setting remains the same—a… Read More →

Album Review: Anar

Anar by Marketa Irglova (ANTI-, 2011. 49 minutes) Marketa Irglova is a Czech singer-songwriter, noted for her work with Glen Hansard, The Frames, as well as The Swell Season. She also co-starred with Hansard on the independent movie Once. Pomegranates and Music Anar is the Persian word for pomegranate, a most appropriate title for Irglova’s first solo record. Much like eating a pomegranate, you have to sit down and scour the entire album to pull out the edible seeds of concentrated flavor and goodness. It takes time for the emotional depth of the album to sink in. The penultimate track, “Dokhtar Goochani”, is a slowed-down Iranian song, undoubtedly influenced from Aida Shahghasemi, an Iranian drummer and vocalist who contributes on… Read More →

Book Review: The Yiddish Policemen’s Union

The Yiddish Policemen’s Union: A Novel by Michael Chabon (New York: HarperCollins, 2007. 464 pp) One of the most celebrated writers of his generation according to The Virginia Quarterly Review, Michael Chabonwas born in Washington D.C. He earned his B.A. from the University of Pittsburgh and his M.F.A from the University of California, Irvine. Chabon published his first novel, The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, from his master’s thesis at the age of 25. His third novel, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, won the 2001 Pulitzer Prize. The Yiddish Policemen’s Union won Chabon the Hugo Award and the Nebula Award. He is married to poet Lollie Groth. Sitka: In Memoriam A calm morning toward the end of an Alaska cruise,… Read More →

Guest Film Review: The Grey

The Grey directed by Joe Carnahan (Open Road Films, R, 117 minutes) Starring Liam Neeson, Dermont Mulroney, and Frank Grillo “Dealing” with Death Many films in recent time depict the violent collision of man and nature (as if we ever were truly at odds with it in the first place). The Grey, in many ways, rather than simply offering an action packed narrative, tries desperately to use this cold struggle as a discussion on the inevitability of death and the various ways contemporary men deal with it. I say “men” and literally meaning male, because the only death we see of a woman is in such striking contrast to what the males face. This ”dealing” is stretched over two hours… Read More →

Album Review: Mylo Xyloto

Mylo Xyloto by Coldplay (Parlophone, 2011. 44 minutes) Coldplay are a British alternative rock band led by vocalist Chris Martin. Recently produced by Brian Eno, Coldplay has enjoyed a high level of acclaim and success. The band has won numerous awards throughout their career, including seven Grammy Award wins from twenty Grammy Award nominations. Coldplay has sold over 50 million records worldwide. What is in a Name? “Mylo Xyloto.” Upon hearing these words, the first thing that came to mind was this exact thought: what? Martin claims that it means “xylo toes”, as in musical toes from a xylophone. But, album title aside, Mylo Xyloto is wonderful. Despite the aid of Brian Eno, it took me a while to get… Read More →

Book Review: Good News to the Poor

Good News to the Poor: John Wesley’s Evangelical Economics by Theodore W. Jennings, Jr. (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1990. 236 pp) The current Professor of Biblical and Constructive Theology at Chicago Theology Seminary, Theodore W. Jennings, Jr. earned his A.B. from Duke University in 1964 and both his B.D. and Ph.D. from Emory University in 1967 and 1971 respectively. Jennings has served as a local pastor and taught for three years at the Methodist Seminary in Mexico City. He has served as a consultant with the United Methodist Church on issues related to commitment to the poor. His research interests include Christian doctrine, biblical theology, gay studies, contemporary late modern philosophy and deconstruction. The Relationship between Wealth and Piety Similar to… Read More →

Book Review: Damned

Damned by Chuck Palahniuk (New York: Doubleday, 2011. 247pp) Chuck Palahniuk is an American essayist and novelist most known for his novel Fight Club. As a postmodern, minimalist author, he is most widely known for his satirical works, as well as transgressional fiction and horror. He lives in Pasco, Washington. Letters to Satan  “Are you there, Satan? It’s me Madison. Don’t take the following as a scolding. Please regard what I’m about to say as strictly constructive feedback. On the plus side, you’ve been running one of the largest, most successful enterprises in the history of…well, history. You’ve managed to grow your market share despite overwhelming competition from a direct, omnipotent competitor. You’re synonymous with torment and suffering. Nevertheless, if… Read More →