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Monthly Archives: February 2013

100 Greatest Novels: Appointment in Samarra & U.S.A. (Trilogy)

Here are two more titles from the 100 Greatest Novels. Sorry for the wait, the U.S.A. Trilogy took a while to get through. Enjoy:

200px-Appointment_in_SamarraAppointment in Samarra by John O’Hara

This was a short novel that packs a lot of punch (sorry for the cliche!). The events unfold in about 36 hours that start with a drink thrown in someone’s face and ends in the complete demise of a character. Although the time period of events are short, the novel flashbacks to numerous stories: the history of a character’s love-life, of other characters’ married life, etc. Sometimes I’d be annoyed by the disruption of the story but ultimately all the flashbacks add to the overall novel. The writing style is similar to The Great Gatsby with O’Hara’s language being more heavily influenced by the time period (1930s). This might be the reason for this novel not being as popular as Gatsby is today.

200px-JpassosbookU.S.A. by John Dos Passos

Consisting of The 42nd Parallel, 1919, and The Big Money, this trilogy is a sprawling epic of America at the beginning of the 20th century. The books contain four narrative styles: fictional narratives following different characters from each of their point of views; the “Newsreel” that consists of newspaper clippings, headlines, and song lyrics; biographies of major historical figures like Teddy Roosevelt and the Wright brothers; and the “Camera Eye,” which are autobiographical scenes written in a stream of consciousness. The fictional stories are all intertwined and give you an emotional and deep understanding of the different walks of life people experienced at the turn of the century. The other three sections just give you an historical background for the story to fit in with a few exceptions: one of the biographical sections emotionally describes the first tomb of the unknown soldier after the first World War and one “Camera Eye” gives you a stark and depressing look at the execution of Sacco and Vanzetti and people’s response to it. Anyways, large undertaking (my copy was right at 1240 pages) but even larger reward. Great read.

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I’ll be taking a short break before the next few novels. I need to focus on my current job search in Houston. That said, know of any job openings in Houston? Thanks!

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Posted by on February 28, 2013 in 100 Greatest Novels, Book Review, Literature

 

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New Music Tuesday – 2/26/13

This morning I picked up (read: bought off iTunes) three great records (read: digital files). They were so good I thought you might want to know about them:

Amok – Atoms for Peace

This band consists of Thom Yorke (Radiohead), Flea (Red Hot Chili Peppers), and Joey Waronker (Beck). And yes, it’s as great as it sounds. The record, Amok, sounds like Radiohead with funkier bass and synth lines and world percussion thrown in. My favorite track is Judge Jury and Executioner and can be heard below:

A Place at the Table (Soundtrack) – The Civil Wars & T Bone Burnett

Being a soundtrack, this has many instrumental tracks. Similar style to the Civil Wars’ debut record but with more instrumentation than normal. T Bone Burnett adds a lot of interesting flavor and dirty country sounds to the soundtrack. Joy and John Paul only sing on a few tracks. That said, this is still an enjoyable listen. Here’s the single, Long Time Gone:

Back Into the Woods – Ed Harcourt

I’ve been a fan of Ed Harcourt since finding his record at a train station in England in 2006. He’s a British musician that isn’t too popular in America but I love what he does. His newest record is a stripped down album that he recorded at Abbey Roads Studio in 6 hours. Most of the tracks are just him on the piano or guitar and singing. It’s a beautiful record, he’s a beautiful pianist, and his voice is gut-wrenching. Here’s a record player playing the title track:

Anyways, get to it. Go support great music and great artists.

 
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Posted by on February 26, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

Netflix’s House of Cards

This weekend I came across a Netflix exclusive show, House of Cards. The entire first season was released on February 1st so all 13 episodes are ready to be watched. Being a political drama, I decided to check out the first episode.

Already halfway through the season, I am really enjoying the show. Kevin Spacey plays a Southern Congressman (Frank Underwood) who’s snubbed by the powers that be and decides to get his revenge on all of them. At the beginning, you like Spacey’s character. By the middle of the season, his character has done some horrible things, have used innocent people for petty gain, and has disgusted you with his treachery. But you still love him and hope for his success. I don’t know if that’s a good thing. I have yet to see where they take Underwood in the rest of the series but I’m excited to see if he goes farther down the rabbit hole. Or if his luck turns against him and he has to redeem himself. Or he sits there and watches Washington burn (metaphorically, of course). Either way, I can’t wait to finish the season.

So if you have a Netflix account, I highly recommend logging on and starting this show. Here’s the second trailer if you’re still not sure.

 
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Posted by on February 18, 2013 in TV

 

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Concert Review: fun. @ Bayou Music Center

I have found the definition of a band “making it.” If you can open a show with a mid-tempo bonus track and the audience reacts like it is your biggest single, you have made it. And that is exactly what fun. did last night.

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Starting with Out on the Town, the bonus track off their hit album Some Nights, fun. played a blistering hour and a half set to a sold out crowd at the Bayou Music Center. The audience sang every word and loved every note played. Bananas and Mardi Gras beads were thrown on the stage, Nate (the singer) informed us that we were all his Valentine, and a great time was had by all.

Now, if you read this blog, you know I’m a big fan of this band. I reviewed their album last February (with stupidly obvious pun and all) and named it #2 on my favorite albums of 2012. But wow, their performance was incredible. Live, musically speaking, they play more like an orchestra. The drummer didn’t do the standard 8th note high-hats with snare on 2 and 4. His playing reminded me more of a timpani player. Or a hip-hop song. Either way works. Andrew’s piano parts were the driving force of so many songs and as a piano player, I loved that. Jack always plays his guitar energetically and his parts always fit the song perfectly. That said, during an acoustic set, Jack really showed his talent on the acoustic guitar. His finger picking, his strum patterns, and even his solos on the acoustic were incredible. And of course, Nate was all over the stage singing all over the treble clef. Damn, he can hit some notes. On pitch, too!

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Anyways, great band. Great concert. Great night. I’m ready to see them perform again.

 
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Posted by on February 14, 2013 in Music, Music Review

 

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