Film Review: First Reformed

First Reformed

First Reformed written and directed by Paul Schrader (Killer Films, Fibonacci Films, Arclight Films, A24, R, 113 min) Starring Ethan Hawke, Amanda Seyfried, Cedric the Entertainer, Victoria Hill, Philip Ettinger, and Michael Galston. The Inability to Kick Either At some point during the endless cycle of retweets that presages the viral, a tweet happened upon my feed that defines my experience pretty well. In talking about a band, The Hold Steady, this tweet notes that the love of the band comes from a Catholic upbringing driving them to drink and then being unable to kick either his upbringing or his love of spirits. While I wasn’t raised Catholic, my own religious background provides plenty of reason to drink, and I,… Read More →

Television Show Review: Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Season 1

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Season 1

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Season 1 created by Tina Fey and Robert Carlock (3 Arts Entertainment, Little Stranger) Starring Ellie Kemper, Jane Krakowski, Tituss Burgess, Carol Kane, and Dylan Gelula. Happy Comedy For years, the recipe for network comedy success required relatable characters, accessible locales, and a pinch of low stakes. Whether it’s Friends or Cheers, the comedy occurs in the screwball situations the writers can come up with. One character lies about something or another. A different character falls for said lie. By the end of the episode, it all resolves! The new creation from Tina Fey and Robert Carlock finds humor from a completely different avenue. Life after Doomsday Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt narrates the story of its titular character,… Read More →

Film Review: Inside Llewyn Davis

Inside Llewyn Davis

Inside Llewyn Davis written and directed by Joel and Ethan Coen (CBS Films, StudioCanal, Anton Capital Entertainment, R, 104 min) Starring Oscar Isaac, Carey Mulligan, Justin Timberlake, and John Goodman. Quit If I could offer a piece of advice to aspiring musicians, it would one, simple terse statement: “Quit.” I don’t mean to be brutally negative, but the music business is not a place for anyone hoping toward a sustainable a career. When I was younger, I had dreams of being in a touring band. Many of the CDs I bought were from underground punk, hardcore, and ska acts. Life on the road seemed glamorous, a pretty awesome career. But truthfully, most of the bands I followed broke up because… Read More →

Book Review: Battleborn

Battleborn by Claire Vaye Watkins

Battleborn: Stories by Claire Vaye Watkins (New York: Riverhead Books, 2012. 304 pp) Born in California, Claire Vaye Watkins is an author, co-director of the Mojave School, and a visiting assistant professor at Princeton University. She graduate from the University of Nevada Reno and earned her MFA from Ohio State University. Battleborn, her collection of short stories won the Story Prize, the New York Public Library Young Lions Fiction Award, the Rosenthal Family Foundation Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and a Silver Pen Award from the Nevada Writers Hall of Fame. Practicing Practicum During my graduate years at Seattle Pacific University, I had the opportunity to choose a practicum which applied the topics of our courses… Read More →

Album Review: Mosquito

Mosquito by Yeah Yeah Yeahs

Mosquito by Yeah Yeah Yeahs (Dress Up, Interscope, 2013. 47 minutes) Yeah Yeah Yeahs is an indie rock band from New York City consisting of Karen O, Nick Zinner, and Brian Chase. The band has released 4 studio albums, 3 of which have been nominated for Grammys. Mosquito Metaphors Have you ever felt like your significant other is a parasite? Have you experienced those days where you continue to give and he continues to take? Is it frustrating trying to balance the ship? Is it even worth continuing? Whether you’ve been married for 30 years or have only been dating for a couple months, relationships ebb and flow. Thus, it can be easy to liken relationships to warfare. Someone lives… Read More →

Book Discussion: Moby-Dick: or, the Whale

Moby Dick by Herman Melville

Moby-Dick: Or, the Whale by Herman Melville (New York: Penguin Classics, 1992; originally published in 1851. 672 pp) Herman Melville was an American author best known for his work, Moby-Dick. A best-selling author with his first three books, Moby-Dick did not sell well and Melville’s popularity never returned. He died in 1891. *Spoiler Alert: We talk about the entire book here* A Sweeping Epic Melville’s sweeping epic details the story of Ishmael and the voyage of the whaling vessel, Pequod. The ship’s eccentric captain, Ahab, sails with a personal vendetta against a white whale, Moby-Dick, who is the source of Ahab’s missing leg from a previous sailing endeavor. Moby-Dick details the minutiae of whaling, the expanse of the open seas,… Read More →

Album Review: The Beast in its Tracks

The Beast in its Tracks by Josh Ritter

The Beast in its Tracks by Josh Ritter (Pytheas Recordings, 2013. 44 minutes) Josh Ritter is an American singer-songwriter born in Moscow, Idaho. A graduate of Oberlin College, Ritter sang open-mic nights and worked odd jobs until he was discovered by Glen Hansard. Ritter has released 7 full-length albums and numerous EPs. A Gig, Most Difficult In my opinion, the hardest gig in show business is that of the singer-songwriter. Typically alone on stage without much accompaniment, the singer-songwriter can’t hide behind anything. When you have a band, the focus of the audience wanders from member to member. A backing band can bring energy to a mundane song; it can hide meaningless lyrics. But when you are alone on stage,… Read More →

Book Review: Hikikomori and the Rental Sister

Hikikomori and the Rental Sister Where Pen Meets Paper

Hikikomori and the Rental Sister: A Novel by Jeff Backhaus (Chapel Hill: Algonquin Books, 2013. 256 pp) Jeff Backhaus has been a cook, an art director, and a professional pilot. He has lived and worked in Korea, and now lives in New York. Etymologically Speaking Etymologically speaking, agoraphobia stands for a “fear of the marketplace.” By definition, the marketplace is a crowded, expansive, and anxiety-inducing space. Everyone goes to the market. We all have daily needs; a centralized space answers to those needs; we all frequent these spaces as a result. Conceptually, I understand agoraphobia. If you feel as if the world is a burden and you are unsure of how to interact socially, why go outside? Why even try?… Read More →