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For the record I love Neon Bible. It's no Funeral and it is definitely a somewhat inconsistent effort but the strengths of it completely overpower thse few songs I've never gotten into. Their new album is a pretty significant step down from Neon Bible and obviously a ginormous step down from Funeral. I have only heard it once and some of these songs may come to life for me whereas some of them may dwindle on repeated listens. But for now, here are my initial reactions.

I had heard 4 songs before the leak happened. Of those, 3 of them are 3 of the best songs on here. "The Suburbs" is the opener and it might be the best song on here. Classic Arcade Fire without feeling redundant or unoriginal. "Ready to Start" is like a mediocre Coldplay song. "Modern Man" and "Rococo" seem to have very little to offer. "Rococo" in particular gets off to a nice start and then it just falls into a repetition that should not have happened. Then we get into the section of the album that actually feels like a chore to get through (I am being kind by saying this does not start with "Ready to Start" because it basically starts there). "Empty Room" is ok and I liked the parts of it that reminded me of ABBA. "City with No Children" is pretty bad; like a really bad Coldplay song. "Half Light I" and "Half Light Part II" are mediocre as well. "Month of May" is solid. "Wasted Hours" is the worst song here and possibly their worst song yet. Then we get to the good stuff. "Deep Blue" and "We Used to Wait" are both really fantastic. "Sprawl I" and "Sprawl II" are really good as well with the latter sounding exactly like a Blondie song. It gets a little old by the end but I still really liked it. "Surburban War" was really good. Ths short closer worked for me as well. Overall my first reaction is that its middle section makes this really hard to call good. A lot of the middle sounds like them phoning it in and not going to the places they could have gone. After the first song, it takes 7 songs to get to a track that is actually REALLY good. Like the level of quality I expect from them. The last third really does pick up significantly.

This second listen is better than the first so far. Maybe this is an indication of me growing to really love it. But I'm not sure. From them I expect a lot, the fans generally expect way too much from this band, me included. So my expectations are higher and thus am dissapointed. This is by no means a bad album; from what I can tell there is just too much mediocrity or mere good songs and not enough that rises up to the quality they set out for themselves. There is absolutely nothing on it that pushes them forward as a band. At all. And they are slacking in what they have become good at. Maybe not slacking but slipping in the quality of what they produce. Opinions change a ton based on multiple listens to this is not a solidified opinion by any means; just an initial reaction.

Hope to listen at least 5 times before the concert on Sunday.



Book 26: The Known World - Edward P. Jones
9/10

The Known World, Edward P. Jones Pulitzer Prize winning novel from 2003 is a tapestry of observation. There is no main character and it I only in the final third where a story emerges. The novel simultaneously becomes very intimate but in a very distant way, never letting us truly get inside the minds of the characters but having us trust the omniscient narrator to be telling us the truth; his accuracy is never doubted. Jones is very much about describing a moment in a way that makes it come alive. This leads to many passages that I can still remember very well; his style has stuck with me. The synopsis given on the inside of the book is not representative of the book at all; I don’t blame them because it is impossible to give a sense of what reading it is like on the inside flap. Henry Townsend is not the main character but is at the center of everything. His death is used as a center point to launch us into the past, giving us a sense of the dozens of characters who populate the book intermittently. Once that is done, we go back to the days following Henry’s death and the disintegration that ensues there. Jones also takes the time to give us a look into what the lives of our characters will become; sometimes in one sentence teases and other times in several paragraphs. By the end everything takes quite very tragic turns but the last several pages are absolutely beautiful. Overall, this was incredible.

Favorite Characters: Augustus, Mildred, Fern, Celeste, Stamford, Elias, Calvin, Alice
Least Favorite: Where do I even begin? Travis, Oden, Caldonia, Counsel, Moses and many more

Selected Passages:

- “No,” Anderson said. “No, it is not as life-threatening. Indeed it can be quite pleasant.” He looked out at the ground before them, the grass, the trees on either side of the winding path that led up to the porch, the sunlight blanketing everything, and then he saw his brothers and sisters standing side by side. He had heard three months before his visit to Canada that one of his sisters, Sheila, second from the left there in Fern’s yard, had died. All his siblings now stood in Fern’s summer yard in the heaviest of winter clothes, boots, coats, fur hats. It was snowing. His brothers and sisters were waving at him, one hand from each of them, and aside from the waving, they were very still, the way they would have been had they been posing for a photograph. “Yes, quite pleasant”.

 - He might have come back again the next night but he had awakened the night he stole the flowers from a dream he could not remember. The dream went to pieces as soon as he sat up on his pallet, but what came into his head was the thought of his mother and father. He had not seen them in more than thirty-five years. He called out to them there in the dark and received no answer. He was forty years old. He sat on his pallet and began to think that he would never again have young stuff, that he would shrivel up and die alone in slavery. There in the dark he realized that he did not even remember his parents’ names. Did they have names? He asked himself as the cabin rose and fell with the snoring of the two other men. Did they have names? They must have, he told himself.”

- He stood there for a very long time, and the longer he stood, the more he sank. All the heart he had for living in the world began to leave him. He could feel the life running down his chest, his arms and legs, doing something for the ground that it had never been able to do for him. If God had asked him if he was ready right then, there would have been only one answer. “Just take me on home. Or spit me down to hell, I don’t care anymore. Just take me away from this.

- He talked to each bird separately, as if the history he had with one was distinct and different from the one he had with the other. To speak to them as a couple, as one unit, would be disrespectful to the history he shared with either. He continued licking his fingers and touching the birds, but neither bird seemed interested in sharing its little piece of death.



FIrst off; Daniel Craig has officially been cast as Blomkvist in David Fincher's upcoming adaptation of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. As much as I am skeptical about an American remake of a Swedish film there are other elements at work which make it something I am looking forward to/approve of.
1. The book's are a worldwide phenomenon and thus it is not so much a remake of the Swedish film as it is an adaptation of the book.
2. David Fincher is a great director. Did I think Curious Case of Benjamin Button was great? No. But it wasn't bad and everything he does is very interesting.
3. Daniel Craig would actually make a good Blomkvist.
4. The Swedish film version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was certainly good but not great.

There is 2 points to be made though which negates all four of these reasons:
1. Not having it take place in Sweden is going to feel very off and will destroy a huge part of the atmosphere that comes with the book and film.
2. No matter who they cast as Lisbeth Salander is not going to be as good as Noomi Rapace. She walked away with that film easily giving THE portrayal of Lisbeth. Anyone else is just not going to be as good.

On to True Blood. This was, for me anyways, the best episode of the season thus far. The shit hit the fan big time.

"I would just love to rip you open and wear your ribcage like a hat"Collapse )"I would just love to rip you open and wear your ribcage like a hat"Collapse )

"I would just love to rip you open and wear your ribcage like a hat"Collapse )
 


Initial Reactions: Mad Men 4.1


Wow. How I have missed this show. It is so nice to have back. This was an awesome episode packed with well done exposition and tons of juicy goodness. Initial reactions under the cut. Hopefully a full review will be up on my tv blog within a couple of days. Also, my review for The Kids Are All Right can be found at my blog www.cinemaenthusiast.com

"It's the Daily News, it's one big section"Collapse )

Beginning the Quest for New Icons

Now that I have added a bunch of people based on my interests in the hopes they add me back someday, it is time to actually find some new icons!

less than 12 hours until Mad Men!

Dexter Season 5 trailer!!!

The Dexter Season 5 trailer premiered at Comic-Con and is now available online. It looks incredible outside of the ridiculous voiceover which ALMOST destroys it. Overall I am very impressed. Picking up the moment Season 4 ended is a very smart call and all of the issues Dexter is going to be dealing with as a result of the end of last season will likely bring about some of Michael C. Hall's best work. It is also a very smart move to stay on track with the Kyle Butler stuff as well as Quinn's suspicions towards Dexter. No sign of Shawn Hatosy, Julia Stiles, Jonny Lee Miller or Peter Weller in the trailer. Is it September yet? 

Also...Mad Men Season 4 premiere in one day!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 

www.sho.com/site/dexter/home.do

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Book 25: A Room with a View - E.M. Forster
8/10


In the vein of Frances Burney's Evelina, A Room with a View takes a humorous and altogether charming look at English countryside life versus London life, a young woman's journey to find her place in society and having to choose between two men in what is primarily a romance. While Evelina was boring, repetitive, outdated and tiresome, A Room with a View is everything but. It is filled with characters that jump off the page particularly Cecil and Charlotte. Even though Lucy is not very interesting, her lack of character is purposeful in that she is really discovering who she is throughout the book. While that has to do with, of course finding a man, the differences between Cecil ad George represent ways her individuality could have gone. The narration pays close attention to Lucy's reaction to all the things being said and her struggle to make a decision based on her own instincts and the reactions of those around her. The book is funny and full of wit with well drawn characters to boot. I cannot wait to see the film which should be arriving on Netflix on Thursday. Hopefully will read Howards' End later this year.


Book 24: The Thirteenth Tale - Diane Setterfield
6.5/10

Overall I enjoyed The Thirteenth Tale. I had some issues with it that are slightly difficult to pinpoint. A lot of the story had me enthralled and consistently kept me interested. However, in her overwhelming attempts to both be in the vein of Jane Eyre and communicate an intense love for books, she kept her characters at a distance I do not think she intended. A lot of the characters were potentially very interesting and she clearly wanted them to be fully rounded but ultimately came up short. The modern day story with Margaret was uninteresting outside of her conversations with Aurelius. A lot of the characters names even were just too much; Setterfield is determined to come up with potentially iconic names. For all of this though the book kept be intrigued throughout and I read through it quite quickly because of my interest level. A moderate success; I am glad I read it but it was not quite what I was hoping.

Also because it was far too long ago that I read these to write reviews:

75 Graphic Novel Challenge: 
26. Y: The Last Man Volume 1: 8/10
27. The Walking Dead Volume 1: 7.9/10
 

Updates!

I have not updated in a while! Have to start the application process VERY soon. Fun times. Been working at the hospital. Not a ton of hours but enough so I have a little money to slowly save and start to pay interest loans. Been relistening to a lot of stuff. Going to see Inception at midnight in IMAX so to say I am pumped about that is a bit of an understatement. However! I am determined to let in only a small chunk of hype. I seriously do not want this to be another Dark Knight scenario. However since I prefer Memento, Insomnia and The Prestige over his Batman works, I think I shall be fine. Still though, the hype surrounding this is already overwhelming. I am going in with a clear head. 3 episodes into Season 3 of Breaking Bad which from the start has proven to be easily as good as Mad Men making it my 6th favorite show of all time. My mind is being blown on an hourly basis and I am officially rooting for the Cranston to take home a 3rd consecutive Emmy this year. Aaron Paul is just....mindblowingly great. Although is Michael C. Hall wins I will be equally excited and will probably cry because I love him so. Once I catch up it will make my fourth show (Glee, True Blood and United States of Tara being the others) that I am caught up on. Hopefully will continue with Supernatural, start either The Wire or The Sopranos and start Party Down leaving Torchwood, continuing Doctor Who, Damages, Skins and Fringe on the backburner for now. Been watching a ton of films and reading a lot as well. Since come January I will hopefully be in grad school I am trying to wisely use my time to watch things because once the ball towards a career gets a-rollin', I won't have much time for anything. I finished The Thirteenth Tale have to write a quick review on that. Since I read the Complicated Women Pre-Code book, I started Dangerous Men. I also started A Room with a View. I hope to start The Known World soon. Watching Doctor Zhivago officially allowed my first film checklist to be complete since the 9 or so years since printing out checklists. It was the 1999 AFI 100 list! I only have 2 more to go on the revised one! I also watched A Woman Under the Influence which was one of the more intense film watching experiences I've had lately but it was incredible. Since I cannot get Shame, Greed or The WInd on Netflix I am attempting an interlibrary loan of all of them which hopefully works out. My reviews have been extremely haphazard lately since it has been days since seeing the films I write about and writing one paragraph severely hurts any actual observations. My main concern is recording my original thoughts on them so task done. I wouldn't be watching much is I were reviewing everything fully. What else? Hmm....I have bad poison ivy for 2 weeks with no sign of departure...yay...I need to completely redo my Favorite Films list at some point and expand it to at least 300 because there are so many films I truly love. I also have to expand my Decade list to 100 when I do it I think because once I am done watching at least 40 more films, 50 won't be nearly enough and frankly neither will 100. I also want to print out new lists to cross things off of That's all for now!!!

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Book 23: The End of the Affair - Graham Greene
6/10

The End of the Affair was moderately enjoyable. It was an interesting look at religion but towards the end was so heavily promotional that it took me out of it. Up until the last 30 pages it went from being a love story or a ‘hate story’, depending on how you take Bendrix’s narration to being an examination of faith and how it comes into your life and how one chooses to adapt to it or reject it. The characters were all well drawn. I liked that Sarah’s diary was a section of the book which gave us a break from Bendrix and his hypocrisy. The prose was very strong with Bendrix being very self reflexive throughout. I liked how Bendrix was all over the place in his thoughts. It felt like an actual person thinking instead of someone who is clear-headed which so few of us are. Overall this was good but I cannot say I loved it because of the direction it ultimately takes.


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