Film Review: Red State

Red State directed by Kevin Smith (The Harvey Boys and NVSH Productions, R, 88 minutes) Starring Michael Parks, Melissa Leo, and John Goodman. Disorientation Honestly, I love complex narratives. When a storyteller leads me down a path and then pulls the rug from under my feet, I take a certain amount of perverse joy in the deception. So then, Kevin Smith’s Red State, with no discernible protagonist and antagonist, ought to be a film that suits my interests. Sadly, not so. A fine line exists between an artistic shredding of stereotypical plot lines and lazily writing a complex mess. Red State is a complex mess. Horny Teenagers Meet Fundamentalist Zealots The movie begins with our first faux-protagonist, Travis (Michael Angarano) being… Read More →

Concert Review: The National, Local Natives, and Wye Oak

Tour Poster The National, Local Natives, and Wye Oak (Concert at The Neptune Theatre, Seattle. December 1, 2001)  Wye Oak  Wye Oak is an indie folk band, comprised of only two members. Andy Stack plays drums, keyboards, and sings backup vocals, while Jenn Wasner sings lead vocals and plays guitar. Formed in 2006 in Maryland, the band has already found wide acclaim and been featured in the television show The Walking Dead. Photo by Renee Barrera When a drummer and a vocalist/guitarist walk on stage you rarely expect something extraordinary. However, that word summarizes Wye Oak nicely. For starters, Andy Stack played the drums and the keyboard simultaneously. At first, his keyboard playing was simple bass lines, but soon it… Read More →

Book Review: God, Freedom, and Evil

God, Freedom, and Evil by Alvin Plantinga (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1977. 121 pp) A well-known American philosopher, Alvin Plantinga is the emeritus John A. O’Brien Professor of Philosophy at the University of Notre Dame. Born in 1932, Plantinga earned his B.A. from Calvin College and his Ph.D. from Yale University. Known for defending orthodox Christian beliefs by analytical philosophy, Plantinga has published numerous books including God and Other Minds, The Nature of Necessity, and Warranted Christian Belief. During his distinguished career, Plantinga received multiple honorary degrees and fellowships. In 1980, magazine named Plantinga “America’s leading orthodox Protestant philosopher of God.“ The Problem of Evil Suppose that God, as most Christians believe, is wholly good, all-knowing, all-powerful, and… Read More →

Christmas Albums 2011: #2 – Under The Mistletoe

Under the Mistletoe by Justin Bieber (Island Records, 2001. 38 Minutes) Born in 1994, Justin Bieber has received several awards including a Juno award for best pop album of the year for My World 2.0 in 2011. He was also nominated for Best New Artist and Best Pop Vocal Album at the 53rd Grammy Awards. A teen idol, his best known song is “Baby”, of which the music video is currently ranked as the most discussed Youtube video. I’m not a Belieber First, let me say I don’t like Justin Bieber, and never have. I find his teen pop vocals disturbingly bad, and frankly now that he’s no longer a high voiced soprano, any novelty that was associated with him is… Read More →

Book Review: The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (New York: Scholastic Inc., 2008. 384 pp) Suzanne Collins began her writing career in children’s television. While working for Nickelodeon, Collins wrote for many shows, chief among them Clarissa Explains it All and The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo. Eventually, Collins moved to children’s literature writing a five-part series, The Underland Chronicles. Her Hunger Games trilogy, however, has received high acclaim, and the first book has been adapted into a major motion picture. Collins lives in Connecticut with her family. A Trilogy Trilogy is not only a word that piques the interest of an avid subset of moviegoers, but is also a word that equals a goldmine for movie executives. No matter the genre… Read More →

Television Show Review: Once Upon a Time: Season 1

Once Upon a Time: Season 1 created by Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis (Kitsis/Horowitz, and ABC Studios, airs Saturday nights at 8/7c on ABC Starring Ginnifer Goodwin, Jennifer Morrison, and Lana Parrilla Why Fairy Tales All of a Sudden? Last week I reviewed the television program Grimm. Naturally, I thought it appropriate to review its ABC rival, Once Upon a Time. Both shows are incredibly alike in that they use common fairy tales as a point of reference. However, the two could not be any more different. The creation of both seems to coincide with fantasy, a niche market, achieving widespread popularity. Since an adaptation of Harry Potter and Twilight means paying lots of money for the rights to broadcasting… Read More →

Book Review: The Cave

The Cave by José Saramago, translated by Margaret Jull Costa (New York: Harcourt, Inc., 2002. 320 pp) José Saramago was a Nobel Prize winning author from Portugal, who 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. Margaret Jull Costa translates Portuguese and Spanish fiction and poetry. For her work she has won the Portuguese Translation Prize, the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, the… Read More →

Christmas Albums 2011: #1 – Christmas

Christmas by Michael Bublé (Reprise Records, 2011. 52 minutes) Michael Bublé is a Canadian singer and actor, who found wide acclaim interestingly through performances at business parties, and later a wedding. He has won three grammy awards for best traditional pop album, and multiple Juno awards as well. With his 2007 album, Call Me Irresponsible, he reached the top of the Billboard top 200 chart. Christmas Time! Christmas time is here, and with it, new Christmas albums. These albums range from good to bad, but a few have caught my attention. So be forewarned; I will be reviewing one album a week through Christmas with an effort to spread the word and good cheer. So, Merry Christmas! Crooners Michael Bublé’s album, Christmas,… Read More →

Album Review: Metals

Metals by Feist (Cherrytree Records, 2011. 50 minutes) Feist is the stage name for Canadian singer-songwriter, Leslie Feist. Having played in bands since she was 15, Feist rose to fame as a member of Toronto-based indie rock group, Broken Social Scene. While touring with the band, she recorded a collection of songs that eventually became her first solo record, Let It Die which won her two Juno Awards. Her second major label release, The Reminder, was certified gold in the U.S. and won her a Juno Award for album of the year. Her latest record, Metals, has received widespread critical acclaim. Palladium My wedding ring is composed of palladium. With the chemical symbol Pd and an atomic number of 46, Palladium,… Read More →

Book Review: The Magicians

The Magicians by Lev Grossman (New York: Penguin Group, 2009. 402pp). Lev Grossman is the senior writer and book critic for TIME. Among several notable publications, he has written for The New York Times, Wired, and The Wall Street Journal. At only forty-two years of age, he is beginning to gain wide acclaim for his work in TIME magazine as well as his novels. Doubt and Humanity I love fantasy novels. I find that they provide a way of escape from a world filled with some terrible things. In fact, I re-read The Chronicles of Narnia every summer, and have done so since I was about fifteen years old. I’ve also read the Harry Potter novels, and loved every moment. Unlike Harry… Read More →