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Monthly Archives: December 2012

100 Greatest Novels: I, Claudius & To the Lighthouse

Sorry for the delay, I had to take a short little trip to London. Anyways, back to the 100 greatest novels

200px-I_Cladius_1st_edition_book_coverI, Claudius by Robert Graves

Or the full title: I, Claudius: From the Autobiography of Tiberius Claudius, Born 10 B.C., Murdered and Deified A.D. 54, in case you were wondering. This novel falls into a type of fiction that when done well is such an incredible book to read: fictional autobiographies. The first foray into this type of novel for me was The Autobiography of Henry VIII by Margaret George, which is a very funny book. What these books do is give us a chance to see history through an important person’s point of view. The best ones are from reviled or ridiculed characters from history; the murderous and gluttonous Henry VIII or the stammering and stupid Emperor Tiberius Claudius. Graves does a great job of making Claudius not only an intelligent historian explaining the last few leaders of Rome, but also a humorous character that you greatly sympathize with. His portrayal of Claudius was also part of a larger movement by historians to correct our perception of Claudius. He wasn’t stupid but most likely had cerebral palsy or Tourette syndrome. When Graves was writing, in the 1930s, the belief was shifting to polio. Interesting stuff.

To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf

175px-ToTheLighthouseWhat an odd book. The first half dragged through an afternoon of a family and some friends at a vacation home. The sentences went on and on. The dinner lasted 5 or so chapters. Then, the book lunged through a few years while following an old maid around the house. The death of some characters were only given a short sentence in parenthesis. Next, the book is back at the vacation home, still trying to get to the lighthouse. And then it was over.

I think this book will be one of those that I didn’t particularly enjoy while I was reading but looking back a few weeks later, I’ll have positive feelings towards it. I don’t know if you have ever felt like this towards a book. Cormac McCarthy novels are always like this for me. Anyways, it wasn’t a long read and there were some very interesting passages. I really enjoyed reading about one characters attempt at and struggle with painting a particular scene.

Next up, An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser. Onwards we go.

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Posted by on December 30, 2012 in 100 Greatest Novels, Book Review, Literature

 

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Favorite Albums of 2012

Time for the annual list of my favorite albums. Again, notice I said “favorite” and not “best” because this is all just opinions. Anyways, this year had some really great records. I had a lot of trouble narrowing the list down to 10. Here we go:

10. Ctrl – Derek Webb & Nexus – Sola-Mi

Derek Webb has released two albums this year. A solo record, Ctrl, and a “movie soundtrack” named Nexus by a side project titled Sola-Mi. Nexus was offered first, and free, and a few months later, Ctrl was released. I reviewed Ctrl a few months ago. After Webb’s usual cryptic tweets, clues left at cafes, etc., it was found out that these two albums were meant to be one. Click here for Webb’s explanation. And here’s the only track I found on youtube:

9. The Sound of the Life of the Mind – Ben Folds Five

As a huge fan of Ben Folds, I’m excited about any release of his. I love his piano playing. He pushes the boundaries of what a grand piano can and should sound like in pop music. Here’s the band performing Erase Me on Jimmy Kimmel Live:

8. Babel – Mumford and Sons

Mumford and Sons are quickly becoming a band that is easily disparaged. His voice is very rough (some say unnecessarily) and their formula for songwriting is somewhat repetitive. Arguments be damned, I jam this record. I enjoy the passion, I enjoy the banjo. Sorry.

7. The Carpenter – The Avett Brothers

What a songwriting duo. I love everything this band puts out. The Carpenter is no different. Saw them perform for the second time at Austin City Limits a few months ago. What a show. Rarely do you see that much energy from a band. And then Chad Smith (drummer of RHCP) came out and played a song with them. Pretty cool moment to experience. Also, my favorite song:

6. Who’s Feeling Young Now? – Punch Brothers

Remember Nickel Creek? Well, the mandolin player, Chris Thile, started this bluegrass outfit. This is their third release and they just keep getting better. All the players are as impressive as Thile and they meld a lot of genres and experiences into their bluegrass sound. This is another band I saw at ACL Fest and even though it was raining and I was soaked to the bone, I was not missing a note from their stage. Here’s a live song:

5. Vows – Kimbra

If you have any positive feelings towards any type of pop music, you need this record in your life. Kimbra is unbelievable. Her voice, her charisma, her songwriting. She is the true pop goddess and everybody you hear on the radio pales in comparison. Fact. Also, this was by far my favorite performance at ACL Festival. Want to see me cut a rug? Put this song on:

4. Battle Born – The Killers

I’ve made it very clear on this blog that I’m a huge Killer’s fan. Following a hiatus, I was excited to hear they were releasing a new album. Battle Born met and exceeded my expectations. Just the right amount of pop, rock, 80s synths, and lovely Brandon Flowers singing. Here’s their newest music video:

3. Give us Rest or (A Requiem Mass in C [The Happiest of All Keys]) – David Crowder Band

This epic modern mass encompasses two discs and uses every second of time perfectly. The genres touched upon range from country and bluegrass to contemporary Christian and symphonic rock (a la Transiberian Orchestra). The album contains all parts of a traditional mass, the lyrical themes touch on everything you’d expect from a funeral mass. Wait, funeral? Well, the death of the band. This was DCB’s last album and what a way to go out.

2. Some Nights – fun.

I struggled between my top two, having trouble who should be number one. Unintentionally, both bands are very outspoken in support of gay marriage. Which I think is incredible. Anyways, fun. is who got the second slot. They’re album came out in February and I still jam this thing like it came out last week. You can read my original review here. I wanted to show you two music videos. First, “Some Nights” from (apparently) the Civil War:

Next, here’s a beautiful song titled “Carry On:”

1. The Heist – Macklemore & Ryan Lewis

This is such a great album. I can’t stop listening to it. And it keeps getting better every time I do. I’m dying to see them live. And I can’t wait for any new music from them (I do know it’s too soon to be wishing that). Just a few weeks ago, I wrote a review of the album. Read it here. Watch Macklemore rap about Michael Jordan shoes and materialism in “Wings:”

Got that? Now watch this short film about the making of the “Thrift Shop” music video and about the band and they’re DIY attitude:

Good? Now go watch their NPR Tiny Desk Concert.

That’s it! See you next year.

 
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Posted by on December 23, 2012 in Lists, Music Review

 

Happy Anniversary

Halie (my fiancé) and I are celebrating our 7th anniversary of dating today, December 9th. Since we are leaving for London (!!!!) Wednesday, we decided to forego exchanging gifts. So instead, I decided to use my blog to tell the world what a gift Halie is to me each and every day.

When Halie and I started dating 7 years ago, she was 15 and I was 17. As you could easily guess, we were immature and stupid. This led to numerous fights over nothing and a few breakups (that we like to ignore now). Luckily, we persisted and survived high school and the transition to college. Looking back, I wouldn’t have had it any other way. We grew together. We learned together. We found out what love was and we both decided that the other was worth giving this thing called love.

7 years later, we’re much different people. We have both graduated with Bachelor degrees and she’s finishing up a Masters. We are now engaged and have a date set for August 5th, 2013, with the ceremony at a castle outside of Bristol, England. I couldn’t be more excited to start the next chapter of my life with Halie. Growing up, I had fairly high standards for the woman I wanted to marry and Halie meets and exceeds everything I always desired. She’s incredibly smart, an impressively hard worker, and beautiful. She shares my desire for adventure and wants to see the world.

Let’s get started!!

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Posted by on December 9, 2012 in Uncategorized

 
 
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