Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Invisible Hand by Fictionist
Formerly titled Good Morning Maxfield, this 6-piece band from Utah made the switch to Fictionist in 2008. But that's not really important; I just think it's interesting. I saw these guys in Idaho a couple summers ago and was blown away by their live performance, which is saying something. Rarely do I actually discover a band and Fictionist is on the brink of something big. Invisible Hand brings to mind John Lennon's solo work and the quiet side of Radiohead. Stuart Maxfield, the lead, plays a guitar full of 70s-style licks and classic melodies. The album is a good mix of introspective ballads and shining rock songs. The two instrumental numbers are also stellar--they sandwich the Travis-esque "Uptight" near the end of the album. Check out their myspace page or their homepage to listen/buy. I recommend "Ashes" (definitely listen to this song) and "Tightrope Hill."
Call And Response: The Remix Album by Maroon 5
Why bother taking an already beat-heavy and flashy band like Maroon 5 and remixing the best songs from their two albums? Um, why not? You either love or hate Maroon 5 and I LOVE them. Call And Response hosts a very respectable line-up of artists such as Mary J. Blige, Of Montreal, Tiesto, and Cut Copy, among others. The variety of artists means that the each of the 18 tracks are very unique, ranging from hip-hop to indie dance to techno. It's a blast, plain and simple, which is precisely the reason I listen to Maroon 5.
Crafty TV Writing by Alex Epstein
At some point in my TV-watching over the past few years, I had the thought, "Man, being a TV writer would be, like, the greatest job." Which then turned to, "Huh, I should pay more attention to how my favorite TV shows are written," which then turned to me reading Jane Espenson's blog and checking out this book, and then finally admitting to myself, "Maybe TV writing is something I'd REALLY like to do someday." (The whole thing was pretty much like that If You Give A Mouse A Cookie book.) And I don't know how much of that's a pipe dream and how much of it is even the slightest bit realistic. I feel sort of lame for even admitting it. That story doesn't tell you a whole lot about the book, but I just had to get it off my chest.
So....Crafty TV Writing is a necessary read if you want to know more about the television industry. Alex Epstein, a seasoned writer himself, covers every plausible topic. He's blunt about the ups and downs and he understands why people love TV because he loves it, too. One of my favorite parts is in the glossary where the entry for Joss reads: The dark god of writers. Black lambs are slaughtered in his name at the new moon. Since the book was published in 2006, the "current" references are growing outdated. A revision would be swell.
Cracked Up To Be by Courtney Summers
Parker Fadley, sick of being the popular girl, begins a dangerous spiral of destruction so she can escape from the one thing holding her back. Dark and depressing, this book is a spot-on look at the pressures that teens have to deal with on a daily basis. Definitely not for everyone, but I think I loved it. I think. I dunno, I'm still mulling it over.
What I Saw And How I Lied by Judy Blundell
Winner of the Nation Book Award for Young Adult Fiction, 2008
Now this book I know I loved. Post-WWII, mystery, legal issues, first love...I'm so there. It reminded me of To Kill A Mockingbird because the prose and themes are very much alike. Evie's step-father just got back from the war and whisks her and her mother down to Palm Beach for vacation, but he's hiding something. Evie's naivete and sharp mind get her in more trouble than she deserves. What I like most about her is that she's the kind of girl who won't let others get in her way, which can make her narration bratty at times, but for the most part it serves her well.
The Big Bang Theory, Season One
I just really love this show, okay? I think what's so appealing about it is that it never loses its traditional sitcom format yet keeps the geek bits coming faster than the Millenium Falcon at hyperspeed. The jokes can be hit or miss, but every episode has at least two or three really stand-out moments. Oh yeah, and I can relate to it a little. Seriously, in the Pilot, there's a scene that goes like this:
Leonard: Do you think we should invite her over for lunch?
Sheldon: But we were going to watch Battlestar Galactica Season Two on DVD!
Leonard: Didn't we already watch that on DVD?
Sheldon: ...Not with commentary, we haven't.
TBBT's greatest strength is the quality and chemistry (pun) of its ensemble. Jim Parsons rocks the house at Sheldon, the neurotic genius (while it's never mentioned, his behavior is probably related to Asperger's Syndrome and you rarely see autism portrayed on tv) and Jim Galecki plays the sweet and reluctant nerd, Leonard. Not to mention Rajesh and Wolowitz, who are fantastically funny on screen. Kaley Cuoco as Penny, their hot neighbor, is great when her character has a purpose. Oftentimes she's thrown aside as the dumb blonde or a means of exposition when the guys have to explain a joke. From what I've seen of it, the second season is when the writers really figure out what to do with her. I believe everybody's just a little bit geeky, so even if you don't get all the references (for me, the physics stuff goes over my head), you'll love watching how the Big Bang boys interact in both their natural habitat and the wild.