Monthly Archives: May 2013

100 Greatest Novels: Tender is the Night

200px-TenderIsTheNight_(Novel)_1st_edition_coverTender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Being a fan of Fitzgerald, I was excited about reading this novel for the first time. Tender is the Night was his fourth and final novel, published in 1934.

The story arch of the novel follows his life during the writing. When he first started the novel, before the crash of 1929, the scenes represent the opulence of the 20s. Then the Depression sets in. More importantly, some of the darkest days of Fitzgerald’s life happened in the early 30s. In 1932, Fitzgerald’s wife Zelda was diagnosed and hospitalized with schizophrenia. Sometimes you’ll see Tender described as an autobiographical novel because a character dealing with a mentally ill wife. This leads to some heart-wrenching scenes that I can only guess come right out of Fitzgerald’s life.

The story follows Dick Diver, a genius psychologist, and his wife Nicole as they live a life of luxury in the south of France (amongst other locations). They meet young movie stars, veterans of the war, and the rich while having large parties at their home. The story then goes into flashbacks of how Dick and Nicole met. Finally, we see the slow destruction of Dick with the novel ending on more of a whimper than a bang like The Great Gatsby.

What really impressed me most about this novel was how different points of view and more backstory can give the reader such a different outlook on a character. There’s one character in particular that is seen as such a strong, independent spirit at first but is ultimately found out to be a broken, abused, and mentally ill patient. With the little information I gave you about the novel and Fitzgerald’s backstory, you should be able to guess which character I’m speaking about. That said, it’s still worth the read because Fitzgerald does such a depressingly beautiful job of portraying mental illness from both sides of the coin.


Up next is a trilogy by James T. Farrell that is grouped together under the name The Studs Lonigan Trilogy. Onwards we go.


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100 Greatest Novels: The Wings of the Dove & The Ambassadors

It’s been incredibly too long since my last 100 greatest novels post. I sincerely apologize. But, Henry James! I struggled to get through these two books. The sentences were incredibly way too long. Each sentence had a minimum of a dozen commas, two semicolons, and at least one dash. Seriously. Anyways, let’s get through it.

The_Wings_of_the_Dove_(Henry_James_Novel)_1st_edition_coverThe Wings of the Dove by Henry James

This story, that starts in London, moves to America, than Europe, than London, than Italy, and back to London, was a somewhat interesting story, albeit slow, of a girl, a young woman, who befriends many people, from America to Italy, and decides she is dying of some unnamed disease; this dying leads to secrets, plans, backstabbing, and open, and hidden, proposals of all the men to all the women-well, most-the other women being the ones, two in particular, that are pushing the proposals, while keeping other proposals from happening in the open; which, invariably, brings us to the tension of who the dying girl loves; and, of course, who loves her back.

I can’t do it. If you don’t believe me, read the book. If you hated the above paragraph, stray far from Henry James.

180px-TheAmbassadorsThe Ambassadors by Henry James

I wish I had read this book first. It’s not nearly as bad as Wings of the Dove. The story is a little more interesting and the humor is darker and more sarcastic. The writing lets you experience where the stories are located. I enjoyed reading about Paris in the early 1900s. James’ writing was still difficult. But let me tell you about the story. It follows Lambert Strether to Europe to convince the son of his widowed fiancee to come back to America to take up the family business. Supposedly, the wayward son has become caught up with a “wicked” woman. Once in Paris, the facts don’t match what Strether was made to expect and his mission becomes somewhat complicated by people he meets and friends he makes. Overall, I enjoyed this novel but I was so sick of Henry James that I didn’t get as much as I would have liked out of it. I would recommend it for someone wanting to read about Paris at the turn of the century.

Up next is F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Tender is the Night. I’m a fan of Fitzgerald’s writing but haven’t read this novel so I’m looking forward to it. Onward we go.


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The Awesomeness that is

Hello friends.

I know I spend a lot of time and words on books and music and I hope you enjoy reading my thoughts on them. But another thing that is dear to my heart is helping those that are less fortunate than us. Any of you reading this are beyond blessed. You have shelter, food, and enough money to have a computer or smartphone to view this webpage. This puts you and I as some of the richest people in the world. Because of that, I think we should be aware and be generous to those that don’t have the chances we did because of something as simple as what country they were born in. I wanted to take a few minutes to tell you about an amazing organization that I am a big supporter of:

This simple video really explains everything. But to really see the effects of lending money and then relending it after being paid back, I wanted you to see my statistics. I joined kiva in 2008 and here’s the impact I’ve had:

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So in just 5 years, I’ve helped small businesses around the world with loans up to almost $1,000. That’s insane! And I’ve only put in $159 but I keep reloaning the money. It’s really an incredible concept with such an amazing impact. With most loans, you get updates from the person you’ve loaned to. Here’s an example:


Ghulam Rasool who is a quilt sewer wants to thank the Kiva lenders from the support. After the loan she bought quilt sewing materials and now she has more clients. She can observe a big change in her business and her monthly income.
Interested? is a very easy website to make a huge difference in somebody’s life. Also, if you use this link, both you and I will get a free $25 gift certificate to loan to any business of our choosing. Pretty awesome.
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Posted by on May 5, 2013 in Uncategorized



Pop Goes the Music

Throughout history, popular music has existed as different genres of music that “have popular appeal.” This has always been short, simple, and easily digestible music that can be sold to and memorized by the masses. Usually, pop music has a derogatory connotation to those that write, study, and play more serious types of music. Every once in a while, artist will come out of the pop music genre as pushing the boundaries and making great music, whether it’s considered pop or not. Historically speaking, some recent examples would be The Beatles in the 60’s and Michael Jackson in the 80’s.

I believe we are having another resurgence of great pop music. And it’s not being led by one person. Let me speculate on where it started and who’s doing it right.

In the late 90’s and early 2000’s, not much was happening in the pop world. Cookie-cutter singers releasing cookie-cutter pop songs. Then a rock band came on the radio playing funk-influenced pop music. Nobody knew what to think. Most “serious” musicians wrote them off as pop music even though they were a 5-piece rock band playing their instruments more impressively than a lot of bands on the rock stations.

Maroon 5 continues to make great pop music into this decade.

Later in the first decade of the 2000’s, more and more “rock” bands starting playing with sounds that most people would consider only pop bands using. This lead us into the next decade when the resurgence really got going. In 2011, we had a piano-driven rock band released an incredible “pop” record:

I always pictured Coldplay getting ready for this record and saying, “Look at all the rock bands trying to write a pop record. Let’s show them how it’s done.” And did they.

About this time, people started realizing that there are a lot of great bands doing pop music that just aren’t getting popular. For example, the band Phoenix have been releasing great pop music since the early 2000’s out of France. The masses didn’t know until their breakout album of 2009, Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix.

This brings us to 2012 and the release of a perfectly amazing pop record by fun., Some Nights (and a self-promotion of my Feb 2012 review of said album).

We finally come to this year with what might be one of the greatest pop records in a long time. The funny thing is this artist was part of the cookie–cutter pop of the 90’s I was speaking about earlier. Of course, it’s Justin Timberlake.

I think Relevant Magazine had one of the best reviews of the record. They summed up the whole thing pretty well with this one statement: “The 20/20 Experience is getting criticized for not having enough pep or urgency, which is sort of like criticizing an opera for not having a clown.” The record is a very fleshed-out experience of classic and modern pop music. The tracks are long and the danceability is only there for a few tracks. All that said, it is such a great listen.

So JT brings us to what is currently incredible in pop music. On the flip side, this means that other artists cannot continue to make mediocre pop music. If the listeners are buying JT’s new record and fun.’s record by the millions and millions (they are), then the listeners want good pop music. A great example of mediocre pop music not making the same splash in the world is’s new record, #willpower. This album currently has 2.5 stars on iTunes. I know you can’t put a lot of weight on online reviews but I have never seen a rating that low on an album from somebody popular. For reviews from actual publications, this is about how they all read.

That said, mediocre pop music will still sell but I think it will become harder and harder to not be great and try to compete with what’s killing the charts right now.

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Posted by on May 1, 2013 in Music, Music Review


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