Monday, January 30, 2012

review: John Dies At the End (book)

This book has been recommended to me numerous times... all of them by the same person actually. And I have to say, it was a trip. I don't think I've ever read a more... crazy book. It's literally like a giant acid trip... But the acid happens to be this even more crazy drug called Soy Sauce - no joke. This drug lets them see the world behind our world. Or parallel. Or demons....

The story opens with our protagonist, Dave, talking to a reporter in the wee hours of the morning in a Mexican restaurant in "Undisclosed" - a mid-western town. Dave begins the arduous process of telling the reporter his story.

It all starts at a party. Dave is approach by a Jamaican who makes a bet with Dave that if he can guess what his dream was about last night then Dave has to buy him a beer. Dave refuses to take the bet but the Rasta just steam rolls over him telling him exactly how his dream went last night. Perturbed Dave walks off. Well, he actually goes chasing after a dog he sees. Later his friend John says that he's going to drinks with a bunch of friend and the Rasta, Dave declines to go with them.

In the middle of the night Dave gets a call from John who is tripping out of his mind. Dave rushes over there only to find John is even worse off then any of his previous trips. Dave decides to take John to the hospital but somehow they get sidetracked and decide to take the dog home. From here they find out that everyone who went to the party is either missing or gruesomely dead.

Although I was initially very keen to read this book, I found that the more I pushed through it the more difficult it become. It was very compelling through the first "chapter" of the book I found myself getting a little, err - disgusting if only for the extremely graphic macabre and grotesque imagery. Sometimes it was very funny and other times I found it unsettling and disturbing.

I really wanted to like this book more than I did. I think it had great bones, but I found that it just didn't agree with me. However, my friend might vehemently disagree with me. You can read his review here. I give John Dies at the End 2.5 stars out of 5. Sorry Jesse!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Updated review: Florence + the Machine (music)

ack!!! new Florence + the Machine album out!!! Their new album is called "Ceremonials" which was released mid 2011. Their first single is called "Shake It Out" which is about letting everything roll off your back and dance and enjoy life. It also continues the themes established in their previous album of being kinda odd with references to demons, religion and cults - but in a fun way. In fact the music video (click on the song!) is Flo wandering around and dancing at a masquerade party.

I'm super excited to see them back and that their second album has as much spunk as their first album. Although "Ceremonials" lacks the harder more punk aspect of "Lungs" (their debut album), most of the songs off of "Ceremonials", can be compared to the song "Cosmic Love" - namely being a more mellow, melodious, and grandiose with a more belt-y sound. Even better is if you buy (or steal - I'm not particular) the deluxe edition you get acoustic version of their best songs and a demo off their possible next album.

Flo and her band continue to impress me with their music. I'm giving their new album 5 stars!

Friday, January 20, 2012

review: Foster the People (music)

Foster the People is a band that made it big this summer with their first hit "Pumped up Kicks" off their album Torches.

Mark Foster is the lead singer, writer and guitarist for the group. When interview he said that he likes to write songs that are "true to life" - about real topics and situations. And although the music is quite dance-able and happy the lyrics are often quite depressing.

For example - "Pumped Up Kicks" is about a homicidal teen who smokes and steals.... not exactly happy but hey! I can dance to it :)

Although they're considered genre bending spanning indie, dance, and pop. They're wiki page calls their music "melodic dance-infused pop and rock". Foster has written songs in pop, indie, electronic, and piano genres.

They've been nominated for Best New Artist, Artist of the Year, Best New Act and a few other variations of being awesome at the Grammy's, MTV Music Awards, and BRIT Awards.

My favorite song is "Houdini" and you can check them out here! I give Foster the People 4 out of 5 stars. Their next album will tells us if they have staying power and possibly up their rating.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

review: The Booth at the End (tv show)

This show is amazing! It asks: "How far would you go to get what you want?" It was originally a Canadian show but can be seen now on hulu - there's a link for you at the end.

The show's only setting is a diner's booth. Here "The Man" (forever nameless), played by Xander Berkeley (seen in great tv like the X-files, M*A*S*H, and guest spots in numerous other shows), conducts his business. People from all walks of life: teens, parents, single adults, and an elderly woman, there are a total of eleven people, come to see The Man and ask him to solve their problems. and he asks them one question: "what do you want?"

Now to get what they want The Man will check in his book to see what it is that they have to do to achieve their goals. We never get to see the interior of the book or learn how it is that The Man chooses their task - only that each task is specific for the rewards.

There are eleven people who approach the man. Some of the stories are interconnected like James and Willem. James' son has leukemia and the Man tells him he must kill a child in order to save his son. Willem wants the girl in the centerfold; to get her he must protect a child. Lo' and behold they choose the same child.

Who will succeed with the task that the Man set for them. Is it necessary to complete the task to achieve their desires? Who is the Man? Is he good or evil? I give The Booth at the End 5 out of 5 stars for an amazing and thought provoking show that will give you so much to think about.

you can actually watch it exclusively on hulu. check it out here!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

review: Memory, Sorrow and Thorn Trilogy (books)

if anyone can claim being the "tolkien" of the modern age - George R. R. Martin has nothing on Tad Williams. Not only was he first, but he's not nearly as dark as Martin and Tolkien's genre was not so black. Williams is just as prolific as Tolkien without being stupidly prolific with songs, poems, and awkward ending wars.

I first tried to read this series in 8th grade as a dare from my friends to read the thickest book we could find in our school library. i completely failed my first attempt.

the second however, was successful. but it was years in between the attempts - mainly because the first hundred or so pages are deadly dull. i know, not a ringing endorsement. BUT if you can solider past 100 or so pages of our main character "mooning" about, and the back story evolving usually involving the main character being somewhere he shouldn't be and over hearing things he doesn't understand, the story gets awesome.

There are technically four books to this trilogy.... i know... not quite what you're expecting but trust me it makes sense. Like HP movie #7 being split into 2 parts, book three of Memory, Sorrow and Thorn is also split into 2 parts (but only for the paperback): part 1 - Siege, part 2 - Storm. So, ideally 3 books but technically 4.

The story begins with the sickening and death of the King of Osten Ard who gained his throne by slaying a dragon to unite the lands (not as... cliche as it sounds but can't really tell you anything as it is plot.... sorry!) With his death the united kingdoms start to argue among themselves, especially with two sons to possibly succeed him.

the story revolves around Simon, your basic a kitchen boy. because he is spacey and "moons" around, he gets apprenticed to Dr. Morgenes your basic druid/wizard who is a member of a secret society protecting a prophecy that will ensure the world's survival should darkness once again threaten it. see where i'm going here? anyways - will a power vacuum things become dicey and long story short, Simon ends up escaping from the castle with some of Dr. Morgenes secrets with him.

Through the series you can expect variations of dwarves, elves, magic, portals into lost realms, politics, a kingdom in flight, evil and sword fights. I give Tad Williams "Memory, Sorrow & Thorn" 3.5 out of 5 stars.