Aronofsky's NOAH

(spoilers ahead)

I've been thinking a lot about Darren Aronofsky's latest movie, NOAH, a high fantasy rendition of the old testament tale about history's greatest hoarder. I thought at first that meant it was a "smart" film, or at least a "heady" film the way Aronofsky's THE FOUNTAIN was -- but the more I tried to justify that, the more that label didn't make sense. That might be the overall problem most audiences have with NOAH: it doesn't fit conveniently under any of these labels. It's not a reverent, historical bible movie. It's not an irreverent, critical provocative movie. It's just a suspenseful thriller using common Christian mythology as a backdrop.

It's a great thriller, though. There's so much murky conflict and tension that, when transposed onto biblical epics, become extremely high stakes. Suddenly it's not about a man trying to protect his family, it's about god's chosen prophet fighting for all mankind. That is as big of an upgrade as you can make. Yet even that's nothing compared to the second half conflict of a psychotic obsessive deciding to kill his own grandchild -- that gets upgraded into a man deciding the human race deserves to be ended. Holy shit, right?

That's the point where this becomes a crazy fucking movie in the best way. It's unsettling, but not for any big deep biblical reasons, it's just a well done and sensible turn of the main protagonist into the main antagonist. It's all in the structure and in the characterization, not in anything having to do with the gravity of bible stories. The thing is, it could have been. And if it were, it would be an even more compelling story.

Here's the premise of the second act conflict: Noah, realizing that the evil is within all people, not just the descendents of Cain, understands that god did not ask him to survive and restart the human race. God asked him to survive, save the animals, and then live out the remaining generation of the human race. Wither on the vine. No humans in the new Eden. So he doesn't find his sons wives and he accepts the barren wife of his eldest, Ila played by Emma Watson. When the secret intervention of his somehow-magical grandfather, Methuselah, allows Ila to get pregnant, Noah realizes that this undermines the creator and his plan for the human race to end. So now he has to kill the baby if it's a daughter that might allow mankind to continue (spoilers: it is. In fact, it's two daughters.)

The crazy tension is in Noah's degradation into a wild-haired, wild-eyed madman. He looks like the craziest fucking hobo you've ever seen and he's determined to kill this baby when it finally comes out and they find out its gender.

(Side note: they do a flash forward, but can you imagine those 9 months of living with crazy hobo dad Noah? Sharpening his sword staring at them, constantly arguing with his son and daughter at the dinner table, yelling with his wife about why she's making baby boots. "YOU KNOW I'MMA KILL THAT BABY, RIGHT? RIGHT???" Talk about inter-family stress.)

Of course there's not going to be any on-screen infanticide, so while Noah comes as close as holding a knife to a sleeping baby's face, he finds that he feels only love in his heart and cannot stab a baby. The resolution is basically a Deus Ex Machina: he is convinced that god did not choose him to end mankind, but to judge mankind as worthy and to guide them into the ways of kindness. It is further validated by rainbow pulses emanating from the sun at the end of the movie.

That's all well and good, and it's a feel good ending that I'm sure will please some audiences. But on some level, I wanted a really dark and complex ending. Not one where Noah kills babies -- that's a little ridiculous for my tastes. I still wanted Noah to have a change of heart, but one where god doesn't. Imagine this:

Noah decides to spare his grandchildren. He just can't do it. So the end result is that the human race continues into this new world in direct defiance of the will of god. This was not part of his will, he doesn't change his mind, he's kinda pissed that people continue to exist when he wanted the new world to be the domain of the giraffes or whatever. So maybe that's why he takes away his blessing -- his direct intervention and all the magic that comes with it. That's why there are no warriors with flaming swords, no arch angels, no direct intervention via miracles.

Noah and his family, faced with this, decide that they have to do their best to live up to the challenge of creating a human race based in kindness, to prove that they are worthy of the creator's blessing. They have to make an argument for mankind by living as decently and as responsibly as possible. And that's the end of the movie. They live in a colder, darker world, but they're going to do their best to show that humanity is worthwhile. Think of how stirring that theme could be. You can even go so far as to extend it to the audience -- leave this theater, go forth and prove that mankind deserves to be here.

Obviously that's a little more hopeless, a little more controversial, and someone would get mad that god is made out to be the bad guy and that you are in fact rooting against him. So I understand why they went that route. In fact, after reading that there was some argument about the film's final cut, I wonder if this was the original ending.

Other observations:

  • I love that since this is pre-history and somewhat of a fantasy world, but definitely  not medieval, they can do whatever they want in terms of world-building. So Noah is wearing a stylish sleeveless leather hoodie and everyone's got these dope denim shawls or whatever.
  • There's a hilarious scene where Noah, in his post-flood misery and traumatic stress, gets drunk off his ass. I know why they show it -- it's cinematic shorthand for "this guy is real messed up and sad" -- but it's hilarious because in order to explain it they basically show Noah inventing wine. The arrive in the new world, they show him picking grapes, then they show him sputtering wine, alone, in a cave, falling asleep naked on his face.
  • I really would love to see more high fantasy films in biblical settings like this. There's a lot you can do. There's one quick flashback of Enoch or whoever fighting the armies of Cain, who are trying ot kill these stone-clad Fallen Angels, and he uses The Flaming Sword of Michael to slay them. It's dope. I want a video game.
  • The fallen angels are basically Rock Ents.



Review | Dreaming of Angels

The xx's self-titled debut a couple of years ago was, in a word, exciting. Their sound explored new levels of sparsity and the vocals were almost lethargic in tone, but it was exciting. It was the cutting edge of mellow, employing a dark, high style to create a modern classic in cool melancholy. When it turned out Jamie xx was some kind of production genius, as evidenced by his hot-as-shit remixes of Gil-Scott Heron and Adele, they suddenly became part of today's upper tier. Forthcoming sea changers like The Weeknd took note of their night music and incorporated it into their own work. All this, and they hadn't even put out a sophomore album.

To promote the lead-up to their next album and show off a bit of the creative process, the xx did a smart thing in creating a Tumblr (or "soundboard"). The xx, whether they mean to or not, has a great brand and mythology. There's a specific look and atmosphere to what they do. It was sealed with that fantastic music video for "Islands". The Tumblr was curated with somber polaroids, the dark rainbows of oil in water, various images of static — all of it in service of building the atmosphere and mood of the album before we even heard a note. It was a herald of things to come.

It's also risky. Anticipation stacked high, because you can't just let people in like that and then deliver a lackluster album. The singles hinted at something scaled back and somehow even sparser, and now that COEXIST is making it's way 'round the net, the full scope of the retreat is apparent. This is not only an album that utilizes the power of silence more than its predecessor, this is an album that puts urgency in the attic.

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Review | There's Always Been A Dream Of All

I wasn't sure if I would like the new Hot Chip album much. I have a high opinion of them, always have. But the last Hot Chip album was my favorite Hot Chip album since the last Hot Chip album. And the one before that, my favorite until then, too. It's turtles all the way down, and that's not a normal arc for a band this prolific. At some point, the wave is supposed to crest, and I'm supposed to run into an album that I can't really get into. In todays critical-blog culture, that seems to be the way of things unless you're a genre-king. The odds of Hot Chip topping themselves, again, seemed slim.

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Review | An Anthem of Forgiving

I first discovered Leonard Cohen sometime in 2006 during my freshman year of college. I had read a Something Awful article that called Bob Dylan "rock & roll's second greatest poet-who-can't-sing next to Leonard Cohen." I laughed, but I didn't know why. My research led me to his GREATEST HITS, SONGS FROM A ROOM and later DEAR HEATHER. Lines from "Chelsea Hotel No.2" and "The Old Revolution" would get stuck in the folds of my mind. I read Cohen as a very specialized songwriter.The lens of his poetry focused inward. His coevals would craft stories and extended metaphors, but Cohen used the mic as his confessional, and we were his priest. It was an easy in for me.

I had the pleasure of watching Cohen perform at Coachella in 2009. I couldn't stay for the whole performance, just 3 or so songs, but I made sure "Hallelujah" was one of them. It's over-covered and most people think of it as Jeff Buckley song, but to see the man perform it himself, on a massive warmly lit stage with a hushed thousand others was special. I was already a fan, but after that I became an enthusiast.

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Review | The Only End I Foresee

Los Campesinos! is a reliable band. The way they're going, I don't know if i'll get tired of them, on record or in concert. It's not that they've been keeping pace with a radical evolutionary arc, but their formula is a direct hit on my music sensibilities. Bone-deep guitar hooks, intricately anecdotal lyrics, a twee sheen with a punk snarl -- if this is your wheelhouse, Los Campesinos! never disappoints. They say you should be the bands you want to hear, but more and more LC is my ideal.

HELLO SADNESS is their 4th record, and, yeah, it's good. There are some noticeable differences if you're that deep into Los Campesinos! analysis. If not, you'll probably like it as much as you liked 2010's ROMANCE IS BORING. Some of these changes can't be helped. LC! is very much an ensemble band and since their last album, they've lost 3 members (two on good terms and one under mysterious circumstances.) The holes have been filled, but the calibration is different. As good as it gets, I wonder if it's missing something that was in their last 3 LPs.

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I Read Oscar Wao

It took me forever to read this book. I'm not proud of it. It's the reason I have refused to update that sidebar, because the fact that this book cover was still posted under "Reading Up" was my punishment of public shame. I've always read slower than I should, and I thought maybe book status updates such as Goodreads or my sidebar would give me enough pressure to plow through more novels in shorter time. I was wrong. I am the worst of all things.

It's amazing what 20+ hour drives up the west coast will do, though. In truth, I should have knocked out this book in a week or two, even at a relaxed, casual pace. But what kept happening is that I would read the first section, about 40 pages or so, and then stop. For a couple of weeks. Inevitably, I'll want to start over, and read the first 40 pages, and then stop again. It was a cycle of forgetting and restarting and breaking too long out of lack of discipline. It is a pathetic thing.

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Forget Your Northern Eyes

Rural Albert Advantage - Hometowns
My recent Canadian excursion got me re-listening to one of my favorite albums, The Rural Alberta Advantage's Hometowns. In truth, The RAA almost never leaves my queue, but being closer to the context in which they wrote this album urged me to give it a new close listen. When I think of Canadian indie rock, I think of this band more than any other. Sure, others like Broken Social Scene are infinitely bigger, but The RAA is distinctly Canadian in their lyrics, themes and imagery. You may not get the reference of "Frank, AB" or understand "purple lights at the Leg," but you get the basic feeling, and begin ot get what that might mean to hometown boys & girls.

I've also been hankering to do some music writing, because it's immediate and fun, but there haven't been any brand new releases that have spurred a lot of thoughts and deconstruction. There have been a lot that spurred thoughts in hindsight, but if I wasn't going to worry about timeliness any longer, maybe I should just go back to 2009 and talk about a favorite.

Hometowns is, centrally but not totally, about a change in location and a change in relationship. The bits and pieces of history are easy to gather: There is a guy, a girl, and a distance between them. The guy moves from far north of Edmonton to the bustling city of Toronto. What follows is relationship turbulence, the burden of disconnection from everything you've known, and the question of what to do when you're stranded.

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I Watched Me And You And Everyone We Know

I'm relatively new to the luxury of Netflix. My sister got an account for the  Xbox only a couple of months ago, but already I am well versed in the common internal struggles of the everyday Netflix streamer. For example, every time I boot it up to watch something whilst I eat, I see a delicious queue full of movies I've always intended to watch or documentaries that will surely enrich my brain. But at the same time, I am not looking for a serious mental commitment at that very moment, seeking what Dan Harmon calls the least objectionable option. A movie I've already watched, or something dumb and fun like Star Trek or god forbid episodes of Pawn Stars. More often than not, I give in to the demons of sloth, because as much as I should see Rashomon, they've got episodes of 30 Rock I can re-watch in less than half an hour.

But I make progress. The easiest way to get things done is to just shut the fuck up (in your head) and do it. So I pulled up Me And You And Everyone We Know, Miranda July's film that I've had pegged for at least a year. Miranda July is a likeable artist. She works in a variety of mediums but her stock-in-trade is the weird, whimsical and quirky circumstances of lonely crazy people.

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I Watched The Wire

Credit: Mickey DuzyjLate to the party, so that the party is all mine.

I guess I could simply say The Wire is great, that the tension was so well crafted, that nothing on television has ever felt so real and that so much of it hangs over your head long after you finish watching. It paints this extremely detailed, heart-wrenching, terrifying and incisive picture of an American city where everything is connected and everyone is doing their best to get by with varying degrees of morality. But everyone is also reacting and doing things they don't want to because of things they can't control, and you, as the audience member, are the only one with the omnipotent point of view that knows the real problems.

Except even knowing the real problem doesn't mean you have the real solution. Everything is so wrapped up together and fucked up and inescapable that it feels like this slow lurching towards doom is the only place this story can go, with very little exception and wiggle room. I guess that's what gets you the most: It feels like the real world, and the real world is such a fucked up place with small victories and bigger losses. Nothing ever really gets resolved, no one really wins. Situations change, and those come with new baggage that will continue to compromise and cripple any and all hope.

But if you've even heard of The Wire, you've probably already read all kinds of ranting and ravings about how amazing and powerful and important the show was. I don't have anything new to add except an agreeing nod, a subdued "Yep." It is probably the greatest show I've seen so far. But I was particularly interested in its depictions of criminals and criminality.

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I Watched Blue Valentine

Credit: artofthetitle.comI don't know why I keep gravitating to sad things. It's obnoxious, but it's a comfortable place. I like the sad song, the sad book, the sad people and even sad dogs. So it shouldn't be surprising that after hearing the initial buzz and rumbling, I was looking forward to watching Blue Valentine.

On paper, it sounds too pedestrian and run of the mill. Two people fall in love but then they aren't, and they live in a city, and they're young and dress well, and then they become not-as-young and dress in awful bald eagle pullovers. If you read a synopsis or a summary, you would think, hasn't this movie been made already? Likely. But I don't know if its been made this well.

In our modern world, films about love have become the territory of Nicholas Sparks, where someone has a terrible illness and someone loves that person and then one (or both) of them die. It's a jack-in-the-box of feelings. You turn the crank in one direction, over and over, of course you get the desired emotional response: Jack springs out.

Blue Valentine doesn't need any of the fancy dressings of sailing scholarships and Alzheimer's disease. Patton Oswalt called it "a movie for fucking adults"and not just because it bounced back and forth between an NC-17 and an R rating. This is a film that goes to great lengths to capture reality, and just like reality, it doesn't sit well with you at all. There aren't extreme world-ending stakes or star-crossed lovers, but the way the details of their misery have been presented makes them feel just as heavy.

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Review | You're Not Alone In Trying To Be

Conor Oberst has been a huge musical presence in my life for the last 7 years now. Whether it was with his main outfit Bright Eyes, or his solo project with the Mystic Valley Band or his supergroup Monsters of Folk, I have always had his emotive, jangly voice lingering in my mind. Seven years doesn't sound like a big deal until I consider that nothing else-- No book or film or show -- has stayed so consistently part of my tastes. It's strange, and a little scary, to think that one prolific artist has become such an impression in my mind.

The People's Key is, possibly, the last Bright Eyes album. If it is, it's an end of an era, although I'm sure that Oberst will still be churning out songs in one band or another. It may not have the same aesthetic or goal, but it will come from a similar place. I looked forward to this album with the high hopes that it would be a culmination of everything Bright Eyes that swept old and new fans along for the ride.

I don't know if it does that, or even if it should. What's sure is that there isn't really an air of finality to this album, unless you put it there yourself. I like it and will listen to it until smoke comes out of my iPod, but that's already a given. Mostly, it's noted for moving away from the folksy/country/americana roots style that they had been playing up (to tremendous success) since I'm Wide Awake It's Morning. You'll find much less honky tonk organs and slide guitar crooning in the background. Instead, we're given a sound that's a little more new age yet also a little bit thrashing. Hard guitar and attempts at synth characterize the album's standouts.

If Cassadaga was the natural evolution of I'm Wide Awake It's Morning, then The People's Key comes from an alternate universe where Digital Ash in a Digital Urn was the hit album of the duo that got everyone's attention. It evolves the basic electronic sounds of Digital Ash, mixes it in with a lot of rock and roll, and wraps them around the Bright Eyes base of maximalist confessions.

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Review | Cast Aside His Starving Eyes

Sometimes, I worry about Tim Kasher. I know that's a completely ludicrous, arrogant feeling to have. It presumes that I, as an avid but distant fan, know what's going on in the private life and mind of an artist through his art. Conor Oberst never had a younger brother that died in a bathtub and Will Sheff is, in all likelihood, not a woman cheating on her husband on an island off the coast of Maine. It's common for artists to invent a fiction of a situation to channel emotional truth. Yet, for some reason, Kasher has always seemed like the most earnest and fiction-less songwriter I have known, for better or for worse.

This all started for me with the song, "Art is Hard." It was one of my first exposures to the band, and the fact that it was so self-aware and self-referential colored a lot of my early impression of the band. Here was a guy singing about songs. In the lyrics, the speaker laments the lack of emotional turmoil to milk for profit and song. In fact, the highest form of turmoil he has is, in fact, that very situation: passing the hat around and making money off of his misery. "Everything I hide ends up in lyrics," sings Kasher. Who are we to doubt his authenticity when he baldly addresses it?

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Review | All I Couldn't Sing

Sufjan Stevens is one of my musical heroes. I don't know when I decided this, but you can tell it's happened when you start making assumptions about an artist based on small inferences. You concoct a fascinating back story and song meanings that only you, the avid fan, understand. It's the reason you never meet your heroes, yet the basis of all hardcore fandom.

This tendency to fill in the blanks of your favorite artists is a little bit creepy, a little bit wrong, but completely within your rights as a fan with nothing better to do. It is part of the price of being a public artist; everyone gets to interpret and participate in art's communal conversation.

Sufjan Stevens is the kind of figure that gives you a lot of blanks. His interviews are rare, his songs are wrapped in mystery or mixed with fiction, and he is overall hard to figure out. We know that he is a writer, from Michigan, a multi-instrumentalist and a Christian. He also released one of the greatest albums in modern independent music, Illinois, which was a sprawling work about the state, past and present, fact and fiction. It won a million awards including album of the decade.

But Illinois was 5 years ago. Since then, he has put out a compilation of b-sides, a mixed-media orchestral suite, and commissioned a remix of one of his earliest electronic albums. In terms of original material, every once in a while we would get a song or two, small morsels at best, usually on charity-based compilations like Dark Was The Night.

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I Read Persepolis

In my quest to eat up the best that the comics medium has to offer, I turned my hunger onto PERSEPOLIS, a two volume graphic novel by Marjane Satrapi. It's one of the latest admissions to comics canon, a modern critical darling, and was even most recently animated as a feature film. It's a memoir about her time during her time, first as a child and then as a teenager, during the Islamic revolution in Iran.

There is an issue in the non-fiction genre, particularly with memoirs, about whether the storytelling/craft of writing is actually good or if someone  has just lived through, what my non-fiction professor called, "craaaazy shit." Because anyone can be (un)lucky enough to be born into an absurd, extreme situation (Augustin Burroughs), but not everyone can tell that story well. It is even rarer to find a writer who can make the mundane, ordinary life seem full of universal power.

I kept this in mind in trying to decide which side of the fence Satrapi fell on. While I'm not keen on being one of those reactionary douchebags that likes to hate things that are popular or critically acclaimed, there are some significant annoyances that hindered my enjoyment of the book. The big picture is this: Satrapi has had an interesting life, and tells it well enough. But giving it MAUS status as one of the must read graphic novels might be a little much. She might certainly have the potential to craft a masterpiece, but this seems only an indicator of her potential.

The art is the soul of the comic, and Satrapi uses a flat, stark black & white cartooning style that is passable in terms of ease of comprehension. I don't mind that it doesn't have a lot of flashiness to it; I am, in fact, a big fan of minimalist art styles. But it tends to be flat a lot in Satrapi's work. Too often are characters draped in pitch black forms, whether in Iran or Vienna, and they become difficult to distinguish especially since the writing context doesn't always help and characters will change hairstyles. While there's something to be said about difficulty vs. ease in comics, the way Chaucer is harder than Hemingway but both are good in different ways, this feels like the type of story that would benefit from ease.

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Review | Here Lies Love

The album I want to write about, in pure first impression terms, is not from an artist I know very well or am particularly passionate about. It's the oddball project from David Byrne of Talking Heads/Crazy Solo Musicology fame collaborating with Fatboy Slim of Songs That Were Popular In The 90s. The reason: It's a 2 disc concept album about Imelda Marcos.

Imelda Marcos, the infamous wife of martial law dictator, Ferdinand Marcos, of the Philippines. Best known for being a modern, Southeast Asian Marie Antoinette and for her obscene shoe collection. Joining them is an all-star cast of indie, pop and rock & roll female vocalists. It's one of those projects that's like a paper airplane: when you throw it, it will either be a perfect glide or a crazy, skittish nose dive.

Byrne, to his credit, isn't just haphazardly choosing an oddball topic. He's done his research, spent time on the islands, and I get the sense that he at least has a good hold of the context of what he's making an album about. Whether that comes through in the music is a separate story. Byrne says he's chosen this topic because the "conflation of fantasy, personal pain and politics that runs through history and that played itself out [in the Philippines] in a dramatically obvious way." For those seeking insight into the madness behind this project, I highly recommend that link. It's a long article written by Byrne himself about his time researching.

So, here is that album at long last, Here Lies Love, complete with awkward, dated portrait of Imelda Marcos as the cover art. I guess the fear is that the album might be embarassing; Perhaps it makes a caricature of the history or the country or the culture. Perhaps it might be terribly whitewashed and romanticize a dark period of Philippine history.

But what if was a totally fun, interesting, educational and, above all, sonically beautiful two disc album? That's the best we could hope for.

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Review | All's Well That Ends

I didn't get Los Campesinos! at first. When they were making a mark around 2008, all I heard were catchy pop punk riffs, pretty violin tunes to contrast the brashness of it all, and a lot of excited incoherent shouting that would probably have made a fun concert. "Hold on Now, Youngster," their first full album, was in and out of my brainosphere within a month.

One thing did bother me, though. I don't know if this is a convention of the twee genre or what, but they wrote with such an honest, pedestrian perspective that eschewed any higher meaning or higher culture, and I wasn't sure I liked that. What I mean is, their lyrics would make reference to scenesters, drunk dialing, LiveJournal as an emotional outlet, and all these very normal things that bands usually aim above. It's a weird thing to articulate now that I try to. I just know that it felt like they embraced hipsterish irony and snarling youth culture wholeheartedly, and that turned me off.

I was so used to my songwriters being like Will Sheff of Okkervil River, who crafts literary allusions and writes anthems about obscure pop figures, or Sufjan Stevens, who hates television and has to research civic history before making an album. They were above even thinking about LiveJournal, let alone mentioning it into a song's emotional climax. I could probably never sit down and have a normal conversation with Sheff and Stevens because they worked at a higher frequency, but that was okay, the music was heavy and important. Los Campesinos! wrote about being afraid to dance at concerts. How could they be a credible band if they sing about shit I know, from perspectives so pedestrian they're actually rare?

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I Read On The Road

On The Road by Jack Kerouac is one of those books that I know I was supposed to have read by now, but haven't. I'm sure some of you were required to in school or something - I didn't have one of those classes. My English 1C teacher was making us read Wicked instead. I read the beginning, skipped the middle, read the end, and then wrote my paper on it. It was cool. I lent it out to someone, and they never gave it back, whoever that person is. I don't even remember.

The thing about On The Road is that it seemed like something that I would be into. According to the absolute truth of Wikipedia, it has been responsible for influencing a whole host of folks I admire like Bob Dylan or Hunter S. Thompson. Warren Ellis used to read it once a year. It's about road travel and America and emotional yearning and bonding those are all things that I think are swell. This should have been in my head years ago.

Well, I did. And I decided to write about it because my "books" tag only has one entry, and that's for a comic.

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Review | Stirs In Us All

I was introduced to Bright Eyes and Cursive at the same time. They were both essential to shaping my high school brain,from  the way I thought and believed in art to the way I colored my life. Bright Eyes was more prolific and critically acclaimed, releasing several albums in the time it took for Cursive to drop one. So I listened to Bright Eyes more and eventually they became the "main" band of these teenage years.

It bothers me when people don't get Cursive. When they like or dislike them because they sound like some derivation of Thrice, it's disappointing. Underneath the alt-rock chord thrashing, there's some deeply raw writing that deserves more credit. Tim Kasher seems to rip into his soul for his audience, even at the cost of alienating them, even at the cost of strange meta commentary about the song he's singing. He gets to you, if you listen closely.

Cursive's last album was Happy Hollow, a concept about a fictional small town and its hypocrisies, its complex social troubles, and most of all its religion. Cursive always does concept albums. Domestica, one of their best, was the image of a young marriage run through the wood chipper of divorce. The Ugly Organ saw a dark, cello-flavored look at the nature of expressive art and sadness exploitation. The thing is, when you sing about the dark recesses of your mind so often, at some point you run out of things to say. Once you've admitted everything, even admitting your admittance, you're empty. A lot of bands run into this, Bright Eyes included, and there are different options: You can start to tell stories about other people, with some detachment, or you can get political/philosophical. Happy Hollow did both, and as Pitchfork said, they became a "words band."

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Review | I Read Jimmy Corrigan

Some day, I'd like to write a comic. It doesn't have to be superhero, though that would be great, it just has to be something with pictures to go with my words, told sequentially, and have dialogue trapped in little bubbles with a funnel pointing at the principal's head. In order to make this pipe dream a little less pipey, I need a wealth of knowledge of the medium. So I decide to make my way through the classics and the acclaimed: Gaiman, Moore, Tomine, Eisner, Hernandez, Satrapi, Spiegelman, Morrison -- There's a lot of them.

Recently, I decided to pick up Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Boy on Earth by Chris Ware. You've probably seen it around in stores. It's that odd, long, rectangular book in the graphic novel section with the flat, basic shape art. It exudes differentness, that is, you can tell it's arty and difficult because it doesn't give a shit about fitting nicely on your bookshelf. What follows is my amateur thoughts and ideas, having now finished the thing.

My first exposure to Ware was a curious cover/comic he did for an edition of Voltaire's Candide for Penguin Classics. It was weird and even out of place, but that just made it seem like a daring choice. That's the basic vibe I get from this book too: an overall strangeness that is a little difficult  read, but the investment brings you in closer overall.

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Review | Creation Time at Night

I'm writing another one. I just like to describe music.

Broken Social Scene is, sometimes, my favorite band. It is definitely my favorite band name - it looks cool on a T-shirt and rolls off the tongue. Their sound can be described as "perfect" - they hit that sweet spot on the crossroads of infectious rhythm and moving melodies. Their songs can space you out, break you down or have you dancing. Everything is wrapped up in this supreme, collaborative, sweeping style and flavor. It pulls from everywhere to come up with something unique.

There are rousing, powerful anthems that will have you pounding the desk like "Ibi Dreams of Pavement (A Better Day)" or quiet, thoughtful pieces like, "All My Friends." There are poetic moments captured in music like "Lover's Spit (Redux)" and "Anthems for a Seventeen-year-old Girl." There are crisp beat-centric masterpieces like "Stars and Sons" and "Cause = Time." They are often, according to my specific needs, perfect.

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