Monday, October 19, 2009

Chuck Klosterman - Sex, Drugs, & Cocoa Puffs

This book is a collection of essays written by Klosterman, covering everything from The Real World and reality TV to Saved By The Bell to serial killers.

I don't think I know how to do this book justice in a review. Klosterman is irreverant, funny, and a great read, from diatribes against Coldplay to having met a serial killer and knowing people who have met or known others in the past.

I definitely think, however, that someone not entirely enmeshed in pop culture wouldn't enjoy this book. It is one pop culture reference after another, and even for me, some of it was hard to follow. (I am just not a person who knows anything about Saved by the Bell, okay? I'm just now learning about Friends - okay, I never want to be a person who knows anything about Saved by the Bell.)

But it's interesting. Whether you're a fan of all these things or not, Klosterman certainly makes an interesting read out of talking shit about the way he lived, the way other people live, and the effect mass media seems to have on our culture.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Philippa Gregory : The Wise Woman

I've read several of Gregory's books, but this is the first that I've come across that's been more like actual fantasy than simply historical fiction.

The Wise Woman centers on a girl named Alys, a supposed orphan raised by a Wise Woman. Alys enters a convent, becoming Sister Ann. Unfortunately, it's not to last, and the convent is burned by the son of the Lord over the land they're on, sacked for the King (Henry VIII), and the nuns murdered. Alys, of course, escapes because if she didn't, there'd be no story.

The back of the book paints the story as a love triangle gone wrong by the use of magic, but that's not the heart of the story. Alys is a woman trying to rise beyond her life's station (cue gratuitous comparisons to Anne Boleyn, also a woman rising above her station, also accused of witchcraft).

Alys uses magic to ensnare the man she wants, after she decides to give up her life of piety and her chances of returning to a nunnery.

It's all very dramatic and it's definitely one of the better reads I've gotten from Gregory in a while (I've been struggling with reading The Other Queen for nearly a year now, and I just can't get into it). I'd recommend it if you want to read a good story along with your batshit crazy. Because it's definitely crazy and bizarre.

I liked it.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Ryan Mecum: Zombie Haiku

"Brains, brains, brains, brains, brains,
Brains, brains, brains, brains, brains, brains, brains.
Artificial hip?"

Lanie and I went with her brother and his friend and saw Zombieland this past weekend. That review will come soon, but afterward, after a delightful dinner at a Lebanese restaurant, we were killing time between that and our viewing of Whip It! (Review also forthcoming) and Lanie and I found this book in a display in Borders.

Now, the premise sounds dumb. It's haiku about zombies! Well, it's really not. It's haiku written by a zombie, with little extras thrown into the pages, like it's a journal-slash-scrapbook. And it's kind of great.

Now, it's not high literature, and it's not going to take you ages to read it (all told, I think it took me maybe half an hour to read the entire book from cover to cover). But the thing is: it's fun. It's a lot of fun.

If you get the chance to check it out, please do so. It will please your little zombie-loving heart.

- Julieann

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Taking Back Sunday: Live At Bamboozle '09

me: last night i didn't go to sleep productively
me: because i forgot about adam's amusement over rubano saying seaboard
me: so i laid there and rewound it and snickered for a good twenty minutes
me: i think i have an illness, frankly.
lanie: lmao I think you do too
me: i wonder if they have AA for this?
me: i need a support group, and possibly bi-weekly meetings

Three Reasons I Am Sad That Taking Back Sunday: Live At Bamboozle '09 Is Audio Only:
1) Mic swinging.
2) Climbing scaffolding.
3) Matt Fazzi is scorching hot - IDK if this is a thing you were aware of. No stop looking at Matt Rubano. I said Matt Fazzi. He's the dude on the left. Who plays the guitar. No, not bass. That's just bass. Fazzi.

The Only Reason I Am Glad That Taking Back Sunday: Live At Bamboozle '09 Is Audio Only:
1) The more filming there is, the higher the potential that Lanie and I would actually BE ON IT. We were on the barricade at this particular show and probably only lucked out that we weren't in the live video for "New Again" by virtue of a) it being pretty dark by this point and b) us being tucked in a corner.

Also, thanks Demi Lovato for pretty much clearing that crowd after your set and allowing us free reign to get to the barricade. I love you just for that. Also you're super pretty in person.

I digress.

So, Taking Back Sunday, Live At Bamboozle '09. It was raining. It was cold. Adam Lazzara thinks that he is an old-school (possibly Southern Baptist - I know these things, they were my brethren before I was old enough to be agnostic/athiest) preacher. Some of the banter is still there! (Actually, most of the banter may be in there - Bamboozle was a long time ago, then we saw No Doubt and drove back to D.C. from Jersey all in the same night THEN got up and went to work the next day. Yeah. Suck on that.)

No, Taking Back Sunday aren't as good live as they are on the album. Believe it or not - most bands are like this. Just be glad that Lazzara isn't doing his weird "HEY! PUBERTY!" thing that he was doing the last time I saw them live (and doing it on purpose, no less), all right? I mean, it's not that bad, and I've definitely heard live recordings of bands that aren't even this good, but it's. It's Taking Back Sunday. If you're going to see them to get what the album sounds like, then, I don't know.

Maybe you're doing it wrong.

Anyway, it's not a full set, and the bit where Lazzara threw part of Beyonce's "Single Ladies" into the breakdown of one of the songs (I think it may have been "You're So Last Summer," but don't hold me to that - I've seen him do that three times and I still can't remember what song he did it during, just that he used to throw the Killers' "When You Were Young" into "Divine Intervention" - which there's video of on my youtube account - I'm digressing again) is gone entirely. I'm sure that's something to do with rights, so whatever. It's not that great. It just is what it is.

Anyway, if you don't like Taking Back Sunday, this won't be the album that converts you. If you like them, you'll probably enjoy it. It's nothing new, but it's fun!

Highlights: "Seaboard," talking about how much it was raining and cold, and "cursing." I think Taking Back Sunday have a swear-jar or something. It's weird.

Lowlights: "Carpathia" sounds like crap. I'm sorry, it just does. Also, short festival set = no "Everything Must Go." Boo. :(

- Julieann

Thursday, October 01, 2009

ed. Rich Balling - Revolution On Canvas, Volume 2: Poetry from the Indie Music Scene

In some ways, this book was better than the first volume. In other ways, it fell short.

There's a lot more prose work in this volume, which is a huge plus. There are some truly great stories in here, like Justin Pierre's (Motion City Soundtrack) "Annelise." Unfortunately, some of the poetry falls disappointingly short of the mark, especially since this book actually does rely more heavily on lyrics than the previous one.

As you may remember from my review of Revolution on Canvas: Volume 1, I was told that a lot of the poetry contained in it was actually song lyrics from the bands. I couldn't tell - I didn't recognize any of them. Unfortunately for the second installment, it wasn't the same. Gabe Saporta (of Midtown in the first book, Cobra Starship in this second) graces us with the lyrics of "It's Warmer In The Basement" and "Success," both of which are on While the City Sleeps, We Rule The Streets. The same goes for The Hush Sound's Greta Salpeter, but, fortunately, not for her bandmate Bob Morris (listed here as Rob Morris).

Surprisingly enough, Pete Wentz's (Fall Out Boy) contribution is not lyrics.

I'll be honest and say that I'm torn between disappointment and pleasure at the inclusion of Armor For Sleep frontman Ben Jorgensen. I love that kid. However, what his contribution is... I'm not sure. It's not actually song lyrics (fortunately), but it's the idea and the basis of what would become the song "Smile For The Camera."

I know I'm talking a lot of shit, but this book is actually a much better read than the first one. Maybe the poetry is a lot of lyrics I already know because I actually listen to some of these bands, but there's a lot of really excellent prose in it, as well. If you liked the first volume, you'll like this one even more.

If you didn't read the first one, maybe give this one a try. It's poetry, after all. Nobody will hold it against you if you don't like it.