Day 148-- on book trends that need to stop

1. the serialized, ultra-pulp adult western-- The Trailsman, Spur, Slocum, Buckskin, Longarm. The plots are basically the same ("Hero swaggers into town, meets bad men, has sex with one or more smart-talkin' women, rides off into sunset after gunfight. Author, make sure to include at least three graphic sex scenes and 18 graphic, unrealistic killings. And use the words 'manhood' and 'sneer'"). The heroes have names like Skye Fargo and the ghostwriters names like Jake Logan. This is escapism at a dangerous zenith. I'm immediately wary of people that tell me that they think these are "good reads." Or, "good readin'."

2. the crypto-Catholic conspiracy novel-- "Look! The Roman Catholic/Byzantine Catholic/Russian and/or Serbian Orthodox church is behind a ________ year old conspiracy to cover up ___________ (fill in with something heretical or quasi-heretical)! But since no one paid attention to the Masons/Knights Templar/U.N./New Age-y group, we'll be the first to break it to the public!" And they just keep coming.

3. hip paranormal mystery/horror/romance bonanzas!-- Judging from the flooded market, trendy, sexy, promiscuous vampires/werewolves/witches/vampirewolves/talking corpses are a smoking hot commodity.

4. tough guy technothrillers-- I'll admit, some of the big names in the genre are at least fair (I've really enjoyed a few Clancy and Crichton novels). The shelves in my bookstore sag, however, with straight-to-mass market paperback he-man tales of American power engaging in elaborate firefights with Cold War leftovers. After spending pages talking about the intricate spy gear/weapons/boot shine kits.

5. Chick Lit-- STOP! (Helen Fielding and Lauren Weisberger, you can keep writing though.)

6. sad, important contemporary literary novels about sad, creative and interesting people doing sad, stupid things that end up making them realize how sad and sad they are-- Stop, please, because the people buying these books don't know any better.

7. childrens' books that want to be Harry Potter or Narnia books but can't because the writers aren't J.K. Rowling or C.S. Lewis (and he's dead anyway)-- A young boy/girl/group of culturally diverse children find(s) out that they can do magic/talk to ponies/travel in time/somehow bend laws of physics, and things are so interesting that the author decided that a series of 7 or 8 books would be a good idea. Inclusion of "Saga," "Tale" or "Chronicles" into the title equals big bucks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

8. time travel romance-- Because romance here and now obviously isn't good enough.

9. Pride & Prejudice sequels/prequels-- I thought Jane Austen's take was good enough! This is essentially widely published fanfic by women that ape Austen's style to a T. That's bad.

posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 1/31/2007 11:34:00 PM, ,

Day 147-- the Road

"Once in those early years he'd wakened in a barren wood and lay listening to flocks of migratory birds overhead in that bitter dark. Their half muted crankings miles above where they circled the earth as senselessly as insects trooping the rim of a bowl. He wished them godspeed till they were gone. He never heard them again."

Cormac McCarthy never specifies what turns the world to ashes in the Road. Nor does he need to; cities are reduced to slag, carbonized forests shudder in cinder-flecked wind, and very little life--plant, animal, human--remains. So why would the why or how matter?

The Road centers on a nameless father and his young son as they search for warmer weather and less dangerous surroundings. The latter is especially difficult, as rover packs of marauders are more interested in cannibalism than discourse. It's a grim, bleak setting for a novel, but that only emphasizes the selfless love the father and son share for one another. Paraphrasing Dostoevsky, the relentless darkness of the setting just makes the beauty more clear.

McCarthy's gorgeous, sparse narrative clings to the skeletal plot. The father and son spend much of the novel tired, hungry and cold. Searches for food never yield much, encounters with the remains of humankind are mortifying, and the bitter winter winds continue to follow the man and the boy coastward. Through haunting vignettes, McCarthy elevates the despair until it's shy of overwhelming; the parent and child's devotion to each other, though, always acts as a buffer before it becomes unbearable.

I can't relate the paradoxical nature of the book enough--it's harsh, brutal, but simultaneously moving and unbelievably humane. McCarthy is a master of brief, clipped sentences that give just enough flavor to convince you how absolutely dire the father and son's situation is. The world is a burnt husk. Plants will not grow. Canned food is increasingly hard to find, and fresh food is a decade-old dream. The child's mother took her own life because of her anguish. The father carries a revolver with two rounds left in the cylinder; they may be for protection, they may not be. But their shortcomings aside, the child possesses a luminous faith in the eternal, and the father a marked appreciation for the small things--fresh apples, beach breeze through his wife's gauzy dress--that are easily taken for granted.

McCarthy has written many great novels over the past four decades, but maybe it's taken this long for him to write an ending as simple and moving as the one in the Road. It's as important a novel as they come, and already one of the defining books of the new millennium.

posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 1/30/2007 10:44:00 PM, ,

Day 146-- advance warning

I'm thinking about switching 'blog publishing systems. I currently use Blogger; I don't really have any problem with Blogger aside from some bugs here and there, but aesthetically speaking I want something different.

Here are some alternatives:
If I do switch, it'll be after some thought and investigation (well, more than I've already poured into it at least). I'd actually like to transfer all of my Blogger posts and Xanga reviews to whatever site I may more to, so I can have everything in one place. We'll see.

posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 1/29/2007 12:49:00 PM, ,

Day 145-- on overanalyzing

When I want to write about a book or a movie or whatnot, I often spend a few days reading other reviews, poking my head into message boards, and so on. This is usually time well spent. I get to see other viewpoints, other angles, other worldviews at play. But it can often be frustrating work.

Recent example: I finished Cormac McCarthy's moving, haunting novel the Road today. I read good reviews galore and eventually settled onto the quote official endquote fansite created to foster scholarly (and otherwise) studies into the author's works. This is when I got frustrated.

The forums on the fansite were cluttered with interpretations of the Road. See, McCarthy has a reputation of filling his novels with allegory, symbolism and allusion; he also a notoriously closed-mouth man and doesn't talk much about themes or meanings or the like. I got a lot out of the Road--so much that I might not give it a good write-up until I let it soak in, which may take a week--but the people on the site just went apecrap with the analysis. They dissected every word, argued with each other on the forum, and as a whole came across like angry PhD holders trying to vent suppressed childhood anxieties. A few forum posts were nigh unreadable, cluttered with ten-cent words and literary allusions to other literary allusions to...etc.

Books--movies, music, art, theatre, whatever--can mean something. Of course it can. But sometimes I think we (in general) want a book or a television show or essay to mean more, to answer questions not even raised, to bolster itself with imaginary padding. The Road is a dense book, no doubt, hiding beneath sparse prose. But as it goes, sometimes a whale is just a whale.

posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 1/29/2007 12:45:00 AM, ,

Day 144

I grit my teeth during the Squid & the Whale, though not necessarily because of the movie; Jeff Daniels's role as Bernard Berkman made me squirm. Why? He's the embodiment of everything I wish not to be.

The list of offenses is ginormous, but where it cut close to the bone was his cruel opinion and snobby attitude. He constantly railed against people he dubbed Philistines (those who don't read books or watch "interesting movies"), vomited his opinion upon anyone within earshot, and elevated his opinion and its worth on to a pedestal covered in flashing lights.

I stopped writing reviews because I'm terrified to become this man; I may've been this man in the past, and that makes me sad. I've had a few people tell me they got that impression from me, like self-importance wafted off of me like wisps of steam brought from rain on hot blacktop.

And people still ask me for music or movie or book advice or suggestions. I don't mind giving it. But every day I dread that I'll lapse into something I don't want to be, and in the end I just want to keep thoughts to myself.

posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 1/28/2007 12:35:00 AM, ,

Day 143-- on not having anything to write about before finding the upcoming Dolorean album legally streamed online

Problem solved.

One of my favorite bands, Dolorean, is releasing You Can't Win (on Yep Roc Records) on 20 Feb., 2007. I've been quite excited since I found out about the release a few months ago.

So now the record label has the entire album streamed on their website. I can't resist. You shouldn't resist either. Their previous LP, Violence in the Snowy Fields, is one of my desert island top ten. (Review here.)

posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 1/26/2007 11:38:00 PM, ,

Day 142-- on two things currently making me laugh

Two videos, actually.

The first you may've seen. It's a commercial. With Bruce Campbell. Which is more than enough for me to love it. ("...with Bruce Campbell" adds love to anything!) As Brandon said, "I don't care what he's selling; I'm buying."

I'm a sucker for goofy performance videos from bands. So, I'm a big sucker for this video from Ash, an Irish band I like a lot. (For the record, they released their first album in the '90s when they were in the mid-teens, and are all absolute and complete Star Wars fanatics. Frontman Tim Wheeler also uses one of the most unnecessarily over-the-top guitar rig set-ups for live work. I always thought a few effect pedals were enough. Geez.)

posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 1/25/2007 11:57:00 PM, ,

Day 141-- true story

I drove to my parents' house today. I didn't have to work at the coffee shop, but work at the bookstore later in the evening, so I took the opportunity to go home, see my dad (my mom was at work), catch up on "24," and do some laundry. Especially do some laundry, since my washer/dryer situation at my house is...unique.

Everything went well, mostly. I managed "big crisis events" well, but get swarmed easily by little things. By the time work rolled around, most of my laundry was still damp (I drove straight home from work), searched in vain to find a book and jacket, and a few other insignificant things that--at the time--felt more than insignificant.

So I'm driving to the mall, hoping that the heat from the vents will dry some of the damp shirts hanging from the plastic grips mounted above the doors. I almost was T-boned by an ambulance, and--to top it off--my radio was flickering on and off. See, my dad and I installed this AM/FM radio/tape deck into my car a few years ago, since it had no radio whatsoever. It worked for about a year, and then--inexplicably--just worked sporadically. Whenever it wanted. It would make beeping noises as it shut on and off. Now, it's at a point where, while it may work for extended periods of time, it mostly works for 30 second intervals before flickering on and off. I found that tapping it helps. Sometimes I hit it hard, and it works for extended periods of time.

So I'm punching it, see. I really wanted to hear the song playing on my MP3 player (the Jayhawks' insanely awesome "Miss Williams' Guitar," for the record). Mark Olsen and Gary Louris were finishing their vocal part and Louris was about to go into his manic guitar solo when the radio pooped out. That's where the punching comes in. I works at first, the radio squawking and the fuzzed guitar coming back in, but then it cuts out. I punch harder. Same thing. Punch again. And more. Some more punches. I then notice that dust or something got all over the edge of the radio, so--while keeping my eye on the road--I dust it off. It's not dust, though, it's blood. Blood all over the radio, all over the shifting column, the steering wheel, my hand. Who knew knuckles bled so much?

PS--Here are some Jayhawks videos (both circa Mark Olsen and post-Mark Olsen)

posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 1/24/2007 11:16:00 PM, ,

Day 140-- some videos for you (Arcade Fire, Freedy Johnston, Marshall Crenshaw)

I found some fun videos. I want to share them with you, if you'll take a second to watch.

This first one is Marshall Crenshaw, one of my musical heroes, covering a Buddy Holly classic. He's accompanied by the awesome Dave Edmunds on guitar (to Marshall's right). If you want to see another great Crenshaw video, click here.

This video is from Freedy Johnston. I really like Freedy; he's definitely a songwriting hero, and someone other well-regarded songwriters really respect. He only had one minor hit ("Bad Reputation") but the dude hasn't written a bad song, ever.

This last video is from the Arcade Fire. I guess you can say people like them. Their new album, Neon Bible, comes out in March. I literally cannot wait. They're going on tour, and played a preview show at a high school in their native Canadian (a few of their members are graduates, I believe). I can't get the song--"Intervention"--out of my head. You can watch it again from a different angle:

posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 1/23/2007 01:14:00 PM, ,

Day 139-- World War Z

Max Brooks's first book, the Zombie Survival Handbook, was very deadpan and straight-faced; as a faux survival field guide, it provided practical information on how to weather an eventual undead attack or--heaven forbid--a world-wide undead infestation. It's quite funny in a weird, overly serious way.

Taking the earth-covering zombie invasion idea to its logical extreme, Brooks creates an entire false history about the rise of seemingly unstoppable zombie hordes, the near-destruction of the world at their rotting hands, and the eventual, desperate human victory. And this time it's not something that can be filed in the humor section, like his last book.

World War Z is a very serious book, despite the ludicrous premise, one that floored me repeatedly. It's a novel, in a sense, but written as a collection of oral interviews put together by "Max Brooks" after the zombie war--interviewees include an American soldier involved in the disastrous battle in Yonkers, NY;
a Chinese doctor who found "Patient Zero," the small boy
who started the entire plague; a rebellious Russian soldier who saw her fellows gunned down for questioning orders; a young Japanese hacker who managed to escape one of the worst infestations; the former U.S. vice president; an Iranian pilot who saw a limited nuclear exchange between several countries; and an American Air Force member who managed to weed her way through zombie-infested bayous after a plane crash. There are a few dozen more interviews, and Brooks does a fantastic job of creating multiple first-person narratives that feel realistic; the characters all have different, nuanced voices, and know of what they speak. Brooks obviously did a ton of research before writing this.

Having created an entire near-future history, Brooks adds minor details that make it believable (through context clues, you can guess that the events take place around five to ten years from now). The characters, everyone "interviewed" over the course of the novel, talk about the zombie war with such passion and vigor and pain and memories that it feels real. It's utterly captivating; if I had to applaud Brooks for one thing, this would be it. Fantasy authors often flesh out fairly complex worlds, but creating a detail-jammed world that's very similar (yet not at all) to our own is probably harder, since you're working with a template that's harder to change.

But the book's best moments are the little things. A young man wondering what happened to his parents. Someone reflecting how--during the zombie war--farmers and people with trade skills became the real heroes, not football stars or famous actors. A defecting Chinese submarine commander terrified that he'd have to kill his son, a sub commander possibly loyal to China. People dealing with fear, people learning to trust and love one another, people putting everything into perspective because of the dead coming back to life. Zombie narratives have always been great platforms for social commentary, which this is (it's filled with little references to tons of current events), but Brooks takes it one step further and focuses on the people--not the zombies--at the core of it all. And that human factor is what makes this better than just a good read; it's a fantastic read.

PS-- (Yes, Max Brooks is definitely Mel Brooks's son.)

posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 1/22/2007 07:59:00 PM, ,

Day 138

"I don't have time to read."

I hear this a lot. I don't get it. I'm well aware that some people are very, very busy (I work for two of them). But they still manage to read non-required texts. So, since it's easier to construct than an essay, I'll list a few suggestions for people who can't find time to read.

As a post-script, I again reiterate that there are plenty of people that have so much on their plate that even thinking about reading is a laugh. But you might not be as busy as you think you are--honestly. This especially can apply to students; I know someone that had 20 credits his senior year of college, was involved in multiple extracurricular activities, hung out with friends, watched movies, went on trips, worked a 20-hour job outside of school and still managed a book a month. You can do it too!

posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 1/21/2007 10:31:00 PM, ,

Day 137-- Harry Potter & the Half-Blood Prince

Harry Potter & the Half-Blood Prince is the sixth and penultimate segment of J.K. Rowling's series. I liked it a lot. It wasn't my favorite in the series, but it was still quite solid.

Like the rest of the Harry Potter books, the Half-Blood Prince continues Harry's story as he attends his sixth year at Hogwarts, a school for young wizards. And, like the rest of the novels, the Half-Blood Prince is a mixture of Bildungsroman, mystery novel and young adult adventure. It's worth mentioning that--like the two books preceding this--the "young adult" elements are fairly scarce this time around.

Harry is now 16. The wizarding world is in turmoil; Lord Voldemort is back. Voldemort is the evil magician that not only tried to kill Harry when he was an infant (murdering his parents in the process), but has been making increasing attempts at gaining power over the past five years. Though Harry thwarted these attempts, no one--especially the higher-ups--wanted to believe him. Now they do: Voldemort and his followers are waging an open war against anyone that doesn't follow them, a war that's claimed the lives of some of Harry's dear friends.

Harry's school year starts off on this note. New professors arrive, old ones leave, others switch teaching positions. Harry finds love in a place he never really expected, and tension builds between Ron Weasley and Hermoine Granger, Harry's closest friends. Hogwart's headmaster Dumbledor leaves the school mysteriously for long periods of time. And the classes are more intense than ever. There is help from a surprising source, though--Harry's Potions class textbook has notes written in the margins from someone with the handle of "the Half-Blood Prince," notes that end up making him the best pupil possible.

While the other Potter books have solid mysteries at their core, the Half-Blood Prince falters in this sense. It feels more like window dressing, whereas the other mysteries moved the story along. The Prince's identity takes a back seat to everything else that's going on in the school--the tumultuous setting and character building aspects really steal the show. The changing elements in Harry's world are captivating--the students scanning the obituaries in the newspaper to see if they know anyone, parents withdrawing their children from the school in fear of their safety, the magical government going out of their way to boost their image in light of some of their failings. And watching Harry, Ron and Hermoine grow is wonderful; the three maturing emotionally, finding love and dealing with everything happening around them.

Yes, as much as Rowling has improved as a writer, she still leans heavily on purple prose, and her adverb and adjective usage is often quite groan-worthy. But the depth of her characters pushes past all of this. She has created a cast of supporting characters that are incredibly nuanced, minor characters that steal the show every time they show up. And honestly, one of the best parts of Rowling's writing is that--while under the mislabeled guise of a "kids' book"--she deals seriously with loss and love. The Half-Blood Prince has a few moments where it's clear that Harry's world has changed because of death of loved ones, but that the one thing that can pull him--everyone--through is love. Not romantic love, per se, but more on the Philia and Agape aspects. It's--honesty--really stirring and moving.

posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 1/20/2007 03:53:00 PM, ,

Day 136-- the "girl" mix tape

My latest entry into themed mix tapes/CDs is one comprised entirely of songs with women's names as the title. There are lots of choose from, which is what a few people told me. This is true, and then when I went to look I realized how hard it is to actually FIND lots of songs.

The two main rules:
1) the title has to be just the first name or first name and surname. Using any song featuring a woman's name is way too easy, though I will say using this rule resulted in me leaving some killer tracks out (Interpol's "Stella was a diver..." and Freedy Johnston's "Evie's Garden" are two great examples).
2) No Barry Manilow or KISS.

The list so far. I have room for maybe one or two more, if you're willing to give suggestions.

1. "Denise," Fountains of Wayne
2. "Julianne," Ben Folds Five (I'm thinking of possibly replacing this with "Alice Childress" by the same band)
3. "Suzanne," Leonard Cohen
4. "Allison," Elvis Costello
5. "Claire," Morphine
6. "Daphne," Django Reinhardt
7. "Nicole," Ash
8. "Mary Anne," Marshall Crenshaw
9. "Jolene," Cake
10. "Megan," the Smoking Popes
11. "Julia Miller," Richard Buckner
12. "Carolina," Josh Rouse
13. "Emily," Freedy Johnston
14. "Ana," Pixies
15. "Mykel & Carli," Weezer

It's a fairly eclectic mix (Django Reinhardt before Ash is pretty bizarre), which is what I was hoping for. It even has some of my favorite songs of all time (the Crenshaw song, the Weezer track--it's pre-crap days for them--and the Costello track). I'm excited about it.

posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 1/19/2007 02:49:00 PM, ,

Day 135-- on the abuse of the term "indie rock"

I abused it for a long time. Now I've seen the light, and I want others to as well.

For ages I always used "indie rock" as an adjective applied to sound. "Oh, you should totally hear suchandsuch band," I'd tell a friend, "they sound like indie rock mixed with Motown." I equated indie rock to a sound, much like I would hard bop jazz or rockabilly.

But I'm going to stop doing this. Indie rock means independent rock, in reference to independent record labels. If I use indie rock like I did before, should I also start saying, "Man, I totally dig that corp rock sound!" It's really hip for my generation to slide indie rock in in place of other descriptions; my cynical guess is that this is because no one wants to learn about genre differences or pay attention to the influences bands and songwriters display in their work.

So Elliott Smith isn't just indie rock; he was indie when he was on Kill Rock Stars, but was on a major label for years. Major labels aren't independent, so why not just call Smith "a musician," or if you want to get funky, a "Beatles-influenced folk-punk poet"? What else-- Built to Spill, Modest Mouse, Death Cab for Cutie and the Decemberists aren't indie rock. The former two have been on major labels (Warner and Sony/Epic) for years, the latter tow signing with a biggies recently.

But then there are labels like Merge Records and Touch & Go, both fiercely independent AND profitable. The former houses heavy weight bands like Teenage Fanclub, Superchunk, Richard Buckner, Spoon, M. Ward and the ever-praised Arcade Fire (which, interestingly enough, turned down many major label offers). Touch & Go is home to dozens of really well-regarded bands that also sell lots of albums: Pinback (you're bound to have heard some of their songs on TV shows or in malls), Calexico, TV on the Radio (whose most recent album topped dozens of year-end lists), the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and Ted Leo & the Pharmacists. These are very indie labels and will probably remain so for a long time. So the bands on the label could be called indie rock.

And guess what, hip kids: the Fray, Mae, Copeland, and even Lovedrug and Copeland aren't indie (the last two are distributed by Sony...what?)

How does this affect the music? It doesn't. Music itself holds the weight, not necessarily what label prints or distributes their music. But I'm going to go out of my way to call it like it is and not use "indie rock" in the wrong context. That might seem overboard to some people, but hey--watching what you say has to start somewhere.

posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 1/18/2007 11:49:00 PM, ,

Day 134-- on my obsession with pop culture tropes

I could spend hours and hours reading and studying weird little things dealing with film, literature and television. Here are some of my favorites:

"Jumping the Shark"-- I love this term. It's the point where a television show (originally--it'll now work with any media) passes its prime and dips into the realm of subpar. The article is captivating beyond belief.
"Retcon"-- Or Retroactive Continuality. It stemmed from comic books, but like almost everything else in this field can now apply to almost anything. Retcons are when the creators of a comic (for example) change previously established facts, either on purpose or by accident. This happens ALL of the time in science fiction or comics, when one writer of a series accidentally changes something already established by past writers.
"Chekhov's gun"-- To quote gifted Russian novelist and playwright Anton Chekhov: "One must not put a loaded rifle on the stage if no one is thinking of firing it." This is when an object or idea in the story is present early on in a seemingly random way, only to become of importance later on.
"Character shield"-- Where characters (especially in film and television) survive things that they shouldn't, for whatever reason.
"MacGuffin"-- The ever-classic, Hitchcock-coined term for any plot device that advances the story and nothing else. A good modern example is in the film Ronin--what's in the briefcase? Who cares; it moves the plot along.

Wikipedia has a great list (and sublists) of some narrative tropes and genre ideas. It's worth spending some time on!

posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 1/17/2007 11:48:00 PM, ,

Day 133-- on my gripe with Xanga

I distinctly remember something like this about a year and half ago: "I'm not switching to any other sort of 'blog; I'm staying with Xanga. <>."

So I've been writing primarily on Blogger for the past few months. I'm totally fine with this. I avoid Xanga as much as I can, updating mainly to get some warped satisfaction from seeing my little avatar floating near the top of the various BlogRings.

My Xanga avoidance, you see, comes from a botched attempt to write a review a few months ago. It might've been the beginning of summer '06, come to think of it, so it was longer than a few months. It was one of the best reviews I'd ever written. Ever. I'm serious. I was so pleased with it that when I hit "Post" I failed to realize that I hadn't backed it up because I was neck-deep in a cloud of bliss. Xanga ate it with an awesome "INTERNAL XANGA ERROR" message. Chomp! I was bummed to the point of speechlessness. I tried various ways to retrieve it, including me manually digging through temp files, but that was fruitless. (For the record, it was a review of the Vigilantes of Love's Killing Floor album. Great record!)

So that little incident was the catalyst that caused the glossy white protective coverings to lift from my eyes, exposing all of Xanga's flaws in one fell swoop. It was like some little man showed the city commissioner (me) how dank and slovenly Xanga City's alleys and gutters were, overflowing with pimps and drug dealers and dying dogs (Xanga in general). This is a possible exaggeration.

As much as I love some of the staff (one programmer was a regular reader of my reviews), the site feels like a hastily designed seventh grade art project. I know they're redesigning it. But it feels more and more cluttered, like the seventh-grader in question is layering more and more swirls of squeeze-bottle paint on top of his project to make it more artsy, but it still looks like poop. The design is just, well, bad. I want to find someone's photos. OK. I can do that. Oh, what's this, I have a message? I click on the link and get an error, so that it registers that I read the message but I did, so when I go back to find the "new message" it's impossible to find. Altering my site's layout was also a grueling process. I had to basically tweak code I didn't entirely understand to get something even REMOTELY uniform in color. Those little lines that separate each post were the worst. Oh, and there's not good way to organize old posts--if I want to read something old but don't remember the exact date, I can guess random dates and dig through the posts.

And this is the just the flour for the cake mix. I could go on and on, but I want to point out how wacky the site design is. It might be OK for Little Joey Punk Rawker, Angst Management in the 6th Grade, but it doesn't cut it when you're using it for something other than venting sprees.

Blogger isn't perfect; I'm well aware of this, and have been on the receiving end of some goofy rubbish the past few months. But at least I don't feel like screaming and clawing my eyes out every time I see my page. It's simple, spartan, and I can tweak the side bar and template with easy as I recline in my easy chair, pipe and brandy sniffer within reach, smoking jacket and manservant in their respective places. Wait, uh...nevermind.

So, one of my excuses for sticking with Xanga before was, "But, like, it--uh--it has those links to Amazon dot com that I can use for my reviews!" Great reasoning, Jason. Great. I wised up. Why don't you, Xanga user?

posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 1/16/2007 11:26:00 PM, ,

Day 132-- on the skinny Jason

Over the past eight days, I've had five people say something along the lines "Did you lose weight?" (and Scott Calgaro capped his sentence off with " look like you're going to beat someone up).

I'm wondering if I did. I think I did. Since moving last month, I really haven't eaten much. Not starving myself, per se, but when I lived with my parents, there was also good cooking readily available. So I'd eat it, even when I wasn't hungry. Now I'm eating enough to stave off the hunger. I am a fair cook, but I haven't really had much chance to actually, like, cook. Work and all that, you know how it is.

I'm also walking to work. I do drive to the mall the few days out of the month that I'm there, but living on College Hill has cut down driving time. I like to walk! It's a lot of fun, and there's been at least one week when I didn't have to drive anywhere at all during the week.

I'm also thinking that cutting my hair--shortest it's been in almost two years!--makes me face look skinnier.

Wait, or maybe I've just lost some weight. I guess so, since more people are talking to me.

posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 1/15/2007 11:13:00 PM, ,

Day 131-- on "24" season 6 (part 1, I'm sure)

Was brutal, shocking, exciting--this didn't surprise me; "24" has been a consistently good show since I started watching it in 2001. Last season--the fifth--was probably the best, with basically no dips or momentary quality lapses that've hit the show in spots (especially during season 2, eiiieeeee). But wow, I was really surprised at how complex the show can get.

I don't mean in tech talk or plot-wise, but with moral complexity. The show has never lectured the audience, never said "this group here is bad, and this other group is good." What season 6 has done very well so far is show how blurry lines can get, how hard it can be to trust, how wrong out judgements can be. Character in "24" constantly have to choose to something bad or something even worse, the results sometimes far short of the good hoped.

The fact that season 6 is plainly showing that there are no easy rules that tie into dealing with evil, no guidelines that say "this group is bad" or "that person is good and that one isn't"--I really am blown away by this the most. And on a purely shock-based level, I'm also blown away by the fact that the show's creators got away with probably the most brutal eight seconds on network television (I'm sure typing "Jack Bauer neck bite" into YouTube will eventually yield something).

Here's season 6's trailer:

posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 1/14/2007 11:12:00 PM, ,

Day 130-- on technology frustrations

I often get upset with technology; not in a "I wish it would work" sense (though I do), but more because of how dependant I am on some of it and what that causes when it doesn't work.

Example: I have a cell phone. I normally never have a problem with my cell phone. As things stand, it's cheaper for me to have a cell phone as my main form of communication over a land line. Today, my parents left me a voice mail--I thought it could be important, but I suddenly couldn't check it because 1) I was getting no signal for my phone, 2) when I did suddenly have a signal, I suddenly started roaming (a rarity, if that), and that costs money to check, and 3) because I couldn't check my voice mail, my phone kept sending me irritating messages EVERY MINUTE (I'm not kidding). So I eventually just shut my phone off.

I wish that--if I needed to talk to my parents--I could just walk home and talk to them. I can't, though, since doing that would occupy my entire day. Or, on the low-end tech scale, I could send them a letter, but that too wouldn't work if it were an emergency. I really hate how bound I am to some forms of technology. Guide me, Wendell.

PS--check out the great headline from Jeffrey Overstreet's movie column. Zing!

posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 1/13/2007 06:57:00 PM, ,

Day 129-- Dear Sirius Satellite Radio

Thanks for providing sporadic satellite radio for our coffee shop, since sporadic satellite radio is better than no radio at all. (And besides, we coffee shop types can't predict when a gust of wind blows a kite into the path of your satellite beam, or when a kitten makes a tree branch droop right into the radio wave pathway.)

I would like to comment on some of the artists you play. I've noticed that on the "Coffee House" station, which we play in our coffee house (a shoe-in, you'd think), you play many songs by the following artists:

David Gray
Norah Jones
Neil Young
Josh Rouse
Ron Sexsmith
Damien Rice
Elton John (only between 5 and 9 p.m., though)
Peter Frampton

David Gray is a good one to play. Thank you. Norah Jones is also a good artist, and I don't get sick of her voice. And you can't go wrong with Neil Young. And Josh Rouse and Ron Sexsmith need more exposure, and if our coffee shop can do so, great! Damien Rice is also good (though you should play "Eskimo" please thank you bye). But stop the Elton John, and hit me with all of the Peter Frampton you have. Acoustic versions of "Show Me the Way" make me want to jump up and make awesome drinks; "Candle in the Wind" makes me want to commit arson.

And note, XTC's "Dear God" is definitely not the first thing that jumps to my head when I think of "great songs to play in a coffee house."

posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 1/13/2007 12:53:00 AM, ,

Day 128-- 2007 Festival of Faith and Music

May I draw your attention to this (and wikied here). Like their now-famous biennial Festival of Faith and Writing, Calvin College began their Festival of Faith and Music humbly, a combination of workshops, concerts and downtime focused on the Christian faith, culture and music. It grows each year.

I attended the past two in 2005 and 2003; I saw some great live performances, sure (Jan Krist, David Bazan, Sufjan Stevens, Half-Handed Cloud, Sarah Masen, Over the Rhine, Bill Mallonee, Pierce Pettis, Greg Brown, Don Peris, Denison Witmer, Daniel Smith, and the incomparable David Eugene Edwards), but I also heard some wonderful speakers (Steve Stockman, David Dark), made some life-long friends, and talked to countless people that sought to glorify God and His risen son with creative, challenging popular music and music critique/study.

The memories stick too, more than most--eating continental breakfast with Andy Whitman and his wife, talking about power pop; running into two old friends that I hadn't seen since my sophomore year of college; watching Joy Morton giggling and wave her hands because she got to sit next to Denison Witmer in a van on the way to a restaurant, Scott Calgaro telling me she had "rock star fever" (Denison just laughed hysterically); me, Scott, Josh Jackson and Nick Purdy visiting Powell's Books in Grand Rapids and making sure their "PASTE recommends" stand was filled, only to watch the employee stare gape-mouthed at the magazine's editors; Scott, Matt Fink and I in a hotel room, discussing the mixed evangelical reaction to the pope's death; Scott telling David Bazan he needed to "stop reading Chomsky, dude"; pulling over Scott's car at a gas station as we drove back to PA, falling asleep, and awaking with 4 inches of snow all over the ground. These memories last.

The 2007 line-up is being finalized. See you there.

posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 1/11/2007 11:37:00 PM, ,

Day 127-- on bridging friendships

I've always felt great pleasure in seeing friends I know from one clique become friends with friends from other cliques. I've always had friends I consider closer than others, and circles I might rest in more often, but I'm a fairly cliqueless person. Or at any rate I just bounce around more than most.

Whatever. I think, though, that I am blessed with the ability to bring people together. It's like a low-impact version of what Scott Calgaro has. Sometimes I'll see two friends talking, laughing together, and a few hours later it'll hit me that they're friends because I intentionally invited both of them such and such invent because I thought they'd be good friends; or, maybe selfishly, I might force friends from one group into another, if only because I think both groups would be great friends together.

It doesn't always work; some people just don't like each other, and old friendships die, and some circles were never meant to intersect. But still, if you're friends with me, it's possible you'll be friends with some of my other friends eventually. Just let it happen; it'll be easier that way.

posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 1/10/2007 11:18:00 PM, ,

Day 126

"His soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and the dead."
-from "the Dead," by James Joyce

posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 1/10/2007 12:13:00 AM, ,

Day 125-- get out of blog free card

I'm using one, now.

posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 1/08/2007 10:03:00 PM, ,

Day 123 & 124-- the worst feeling I've ever experienced / scattered thoughts

I've been pretty sick the past day or so, hence no post yesterday. To make up for it, I'm doing two posts today. Makes sense.


I got sick Saturday night. I was feeling a bit off a good portion of the day, but things started going downhill drastically before the end of the night. I won't go into details too much, but I had a 24-hour virus that had hit several other friends over the past week.

I woke up around 4 a.m. this morning, staggered to the bathroom, swayed woozily. I felt like I had to again vomit. But as I stood slightly hunched, I started getting dizzy. Like, very, very dizzy. And I felt like I was about to throw up, but nothing was happening. And a high-pitched whine filled my ears. And things started to get weird. I was so dizzy and lightheaded--more than I've ever been in my life--that everything was spinning, and I kept trying to vomit, but nothing was happening. Weird, disconnected thoughts started to flood my mind--about the ambulance shrieking down the street in the movie Bringing Out the Dead, about the Super Mario brothers. There was so much pressure in my head that I started staggering backward. I then did the only thing that made sense: I called out--loudly--to God for help. And then I blacked out.

I woke up on the bathroom floor about an hour later; I figured I had just crumpled to the floor and fell asleep, since I vaguely remember that. I remember mouthing Psalm 146. And I remember getting back up and going to bed. And I've been getting gradually better since.


--I was going to have a review of Children of Men (the movie, not the novel) up, but it'll probably be a few days. Need to straighten my thoughts out a bit; I liked it a lot, but it's a very "chewy" movie and one that's hard to encapsulate in a shorter 'blog review.
--Anyone want to see Pan's Labyrinth with me? It's opening in Pittsburgh on 19 January.
--MySpace cracks me up, but not in a 'ha-ha' funny kind of way; this is especially in regards to the ads that take up 1/3 of your screen at any given time. Most of them are either "help Bimbo #1 wash the car and win a ring tone!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" or "find true love." And by "find true love," they mean, "get hooked up with skanky women." Which makes the men even remotely considering clicking the link questionable at best.
--Eating only saltine crackers for a day is awesome. Not.
--I'm really liking candles. I got two candles from Yankee Candle a few weeks ago and I don't want to stop burning them.

posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 1/07/2007 11:47:00 PM, ,

Day 122-- No Country for Old Men

As much as 2006's the Road was a departure for Cormac McCarthy (post-apocalyptic future?), No Country for Old Men was as much as a departure from the authors oeuvre when it was released in '05. It's a lean, taut novel (compared to the near-Melvillian descriptive techniques McCarthy is known for), and it's set in 1980 (about 70 years later than any other McCarthy book). And as after seven years of silence, No Country for Old Men was sort of a surprise to readers and critics.

No Country for Old Men centers around three main characters and the nightmare they've been caught in: Llewellyn Moss, an average joe who--while hunting antelope in the Texas-Mexico desert--comes across a drug deal gone back and takes a case filled with 2.4 million dollars; Anton Chigurh, a sociopath hired to get the money back; and Ed Tom Bell, an aging sheriff who investigates the string of killings that follow Chigurh from county to county. The book is mainly told in third person, but the narrative is broken up by first person ruminations of Bell.

As I mentioned earlier, the book is sparse, a stark contrast to McCarthy's usually lush and nuaced descriptive ability. The majority of the book follows Moss and Chigurh as they duck and dodge each other, while the latter focuses on the aftermath of the event and a lot of Bell's thoughts on what had happened. McCarthy keeps it simple and dialogue heavy. Many critics didn't like this change, considering it a change for the worst.

It's a very violent book (Chigurh alone kills well over 15 people, from his own associates to motel employees that get in the way--and one of his favorite weapons is a modified slaughterhouse bolt stunner), but one of McCarthy's gifts (or faults, depending on who you ask) is that it's never graphic. He rarely goes out of his way to dwell on the gore, just lays it out there as basic as possible, moves on and lets the reader interpret it. McCarthy also deals heavily with the standard "deep" things he puts into his books (sin, nihilism, existentialism, semotics; the gnostic elements aren't on tap this time around, though), but one of the most captivating aspects is Bell's realization that there is no way he (the embodiment of the WWII generation ethic) can face Chigurh (the 'new breed'). After reading the book and staring into the abyss of Chigurh's warped, perverse sense of justice, the fact that he doesn't find Bell significant enough to kill says something.

Bell's monologues wander into interesting territory, including the importance his marriage holds in his life and how future generations might just spiral into nothingness. McCarthy doesn't use Bell as some moral compass--he's not that sort of author--but a sad, understated consideration and gentleness of Bell are a sharp contrast to all of the meaningless violence that Chigurh and his ilk dish out without pause. One of the most touching--and easily overlooked--qualities of the book are the few kind things Moss does as he flees with the money. He's a fool in most ways, but a brief acts of kindness really made me care about his character and realize that he's more like Bell than Chigurh.

In that sense, I really liked the book, but I hesitate to openly recommend it to everyone since I know not everyone is going to be able to wade through the blood to find the same nuggets of truth that I did. Or, you can just wait for the Coen brothers' film adaptation this year.

Some links to reviews of the book.

posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 1/05/2007 06:19:00 PM, ,


Something happened today, something that changed my increasing good mood into something else. I hate it when things like that happen. I wish I could take the advice someone told me about situations like this: "don't worry about it." But I do. I think about this sort of thing, and think about it a lot. I go out of my way to not think about it. So I think about some people and the things involved in the situation and dwell and on a scale of one to ten of Awesome it's most definitely a negative two. So now I'll be distracted and all of the great things around me that I've been blessed with will be tainted with gloomy overtones and overwrought emotions and things. If I could change one thing about me, it'd be this thing.

Total "thing" usage: 9 times

posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 1/04/2007 10:44:00 PM, ,

Day 120-- the Invented History of Superjock, Part 5: the Rivalry

So there was this other band: Quiver. They were the only really good band on campus (since Superjock was that gray area between good and pretty horrible; we pulled away unscathed by claiming that anything bad sounding was ironic and intentional). Quiver played rock music--it was loud, catchy, and the blues crept into their songs. We hated Quiver, in theory, because they were good. Or at least I did. In theory. I was also mad that lots of people liked them and that they played an inferior form of rock and roll. In theory.

Quiver was fronted by a guy named Steve. Steve had a really soulful, bourbon-on-the-rocks sort of voice. He was also a pretty mean guitarist. There was also Chris (#1), a REALLY mean guitarist. He could play circles around everyone in our group, combined. And their bassist Chris (#2) was good. I was jealous of him because he knew what he was doing on the bass, whereas I sort of made things up from my own guitarist perspective (and a mediocre guitarist perspective at that). Finally, a guy named Levi drummed. He was good.

We liked Levi and Chris (#1) a lot as people, and grumbled under our breath about them being chained to the cookie-cutter blues rock monolith of Quiver. I don't think we liked Steve much. "Ego," I said, boosting my own ego. We had a friend that occasionally sang with Quiver, and we'd get her to admit how evilbadwrong they were. Quiver! Bah!

We went to Quiver shows, because we had to. In theory. We'd stand in the back and grumble. They went to our shows and grumbled, I think. In theory. Chris (#2) and I would sometimes talk bass guitar talk, him saying how he thought I did some neat stuff that one night. I'd thank him, and tell him how awesome his bass line was in thatonesongthatQuiverdidIforgotthename, and then I'd realize that I was gushing and shut up. I was (in theory) suppose to be hating. Hate.

Our biggest coup was at that year's Big Event. See, the Big Event was a giant, outdoor festival that Geneva held on the lawn in front of one of the dorms. They'd usually get some fair-to-good band to play, preceded by a swarm of student bands. The student body would play games and eat awesome food on the lawn. It was a lot of fun (before it got turned into the collegiate equivalent of a Slip and Slide a few years ago).

Superjock had a friend in the Student Activities department. In fact, she was the main student liaison to the SA head. Kris (our friend) loved Superjock. She was hip, see. We got to open up for the big band at the Big Event that year, meaning, we were the last student band to play before the rock stars came out. The rock stars were the Elms. Perfect! They were a power pop band, just like Superjock. Quiver would play before us, and would have to acknowledge that the awesomer band won.

We got ready. We practiced a ton. I think I got sort of jaded by our band, for some reason, because when the big day came I didn't don the official SJ sweater vest. I just wore a t-shirt and shorts. I remember watching the bands throughout the day, growing increasingly nervous. Quiver eventually came out as we loaded our gear next to the stage. They ripped through some songs, and sounded pretty good. One of their last songs was a cover of the Pixies song "Where Is My Mind?" Steve announced to the audience, "we're going to close with the song 'Where Is My Mind?' from the movie Fight Club." In a rage fueled partially by music collector mania and anger at any potential fanbase they might win for playing a song cool at the time, I shrieked "IT'S FROM THE PIXIES' 1989 FULL-LENGTH SURFER ROSA." Take that, Quiver.

But they got their stuff off of the stage, Superjock lugging speakers and amps and guitar cases onto the stage and nodding "well done"s at them, not entirely in earnest. I set up my Fuzz Face pedal and checked my mic with the guys running the soundboard. The rest of the band did what they needed to do.

I can honestly say that was the best show we played. We had fun. I managed to not only play well, but did good backing vocals for once. Jeremy was in rare form that night, not only pulling off everything perfectly on the guitar but accenting songs with lead parts that harmonized with everything. Verien wailed on the drums. And Matt was not only singing and playing his guitar with everything he had, but his usually humorous between song banter was professional comedian level (he did get chicken wing bones tossed at him at one point). And the rap (our improve joke hip hop song) was great. When we were done, the frontman and lead guitarist from the Elms talked to us for like an hour, telling us how much they loved such and such song and how they also loved bands like Superdrag and Teenage Fanclub and Tom Petty. During their show, the lead guitarist kept looking at me and adding knowing musical references into his playing (such as finishing one of their songs with a riff from the Superdrag tune).

It was amazing.

And in hindsight we were complete and total buffoons in regards to the guys in Quiver (all of whom I'm friends with now).

posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 1/03/2007 11:33:00 PM, ,

Day 119-- on my new home (w/ color illustrations)

I've mentioned my new place before, but now I took some photos. Look out.

This is the entrance room. The door is basically right behind me (from where I took the picture, I mean). There are some awesome Yankee Candles right out of view that are, uh, awesome. See that door through the portal to the right? We'll go there in a minute. I realize that about 1/4 of what I brought when I moved were DVDs.

Next up is the 'living room,' or whatever. It used to be the dining room. But since three guys 25 and under live here, it's basically this big space for computers and things. See the Christmas tree that's looming on the left? Yeah, it's awesome. My computer is on the left, Fred's is on the right. My bookshelf is also on the left, next to the passage that leads to the entrance room. The kitchen is to the left, but...we're not going to go in there. I'm taking the picture from the bottom of the stairs.

This is the basement. We're not going to talk about the basement.

(There is a locked coal storage area from the '30s that none of us have ever opened. Ever.)

My cozy room. I need blinds or curtains for that window, so that's my goal for the next week. That's my "unread book" shelf, though I have around 50 more books stacked on the desk on the bottom right. That chair is VERY comfy too. Someone painted Psalms in white paint on the wall, which is interesting, especially since they capitalized random words (like "ANGEL"). At least they didn't paint "ANGLE."

posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 1/03/2007 12:15:00 AM, ,

Day 118-- on the Coen brothers

Joel and Ethan Coen are two gifted contemporary filmmakers. I think I'd say they're my favorites that're still alive (since John Ford and Billy Wilder are certainly not alive). So, let's look at their films in order of chronology.

-Blood Simple: The Coen's first movie is both a homage to film noir and great, subtle, and fantastically realized thriller on its own. The plot: wife has affair, jealous husband hires hitman to kill them. Things don't go as planned. Great use of low-lighting, great minimalist score, great plot. Disturbing in some ways (especially the ending sequence), it's still riveting.

-Raising Arizona: If Blood Simple was the brothers in their "dark" mode, Raising Arizona is the weird opposite: it has much of the thoughtful, weird humor that the Coens put in their movies, but is a slapstick and completely absurd comedy. Two petty criminals steal a baby off of a wealthy couple to raise on their own. Mayhem ensues. It's a very funny film, though I think I appreciate the Coens' darker humor better.

-Miller's Crossing: One of the brothers' best films. A gangster film set in the 1920s, it follows Tom Reagan (Gabriel Byrne) in an increasingly complex web of crossed loyalties and secret manipulations. It's a very different film than, well, any other "gangster" movie I've seen; it's very indebted to the work of Dashiell Hammett (one of my favorite authors), and the dialogue, camera work and acting are just breathtaking. Second favorite Coen film.

-Barton Fink: Probably tied with Fargo as the brothers' best. John Turturro is fantastic as the title character, an award-winning playwright hired by Hollywood to write wresting pictures. He gets writer's block. And then things get weird. It's a brilliant designed movie that the brothers are very tight-lipped on, with possible allusions to everything from Hollywood's neglect of Nazism of WWII to the literal Hell writers go through. My parents liked this, amazingly. The brothers also manage to riff on poke fun at lots of Hollywood sacred cows. A very funny, complex, and stark movie.

-The Hudsucker Proxy: A screwball comedy and--honestly--my vote for the Coens' funniest movie. It has gentle, loving touch that makes it a fun watch for most of the family. Co-written with bedfellow Sam Raimi, it balances gallows humor with a clever riff on 1940s news reels. And it's about the fictional invention of the hula hoop. I could watch this for days on end and not get tired.

-Fargo: The Coens' best movie, methinks. It's a short neo-noir meditation on the violent result of a man's greed, interspersed with black humor. So black, in fact, that many don't even find the movie funny. It has a very redemptive message running through it, though it's easy to miss if you dwell on the violence (David Dark does a great job of talking about it in his book Everyday Apocalypse). And goodness, I love the film's score (done by frequent Coen collaborator Carter Burwell).

-The Big Lebowski: A stoner bowler gets mistaken for a millionaire, hilarious chaos results. A slight take on Raymond Chandler's The Big Sleep (one of my favorite novels), the brothers use the ridiculously complex hardboiled plot to poke fun at everything that they can. Definitely not a movie for children, but man--the brothers manage to cram some wonderful themes in between the nihilists and dream bowling sequences and profanity outbursts (thanks primarily to John Goodman's complex, sad character).

-O Brother, Where Art Thou?: Probably the best known film and breakthrough to mainstream audiences, O Brother... is, well, I'm not sure what it is. Take on a Homer epic? Sepia-toned musical? Political allegory and homage to Preston Surges? It's a madcap movie, though, and one of the ones I'm still trying to get a grasp on. And, as a bonus, the Coens put great Christian musician/music archivist T-Bone Burnett to good use with the soundtrack.

-The Man Who Wasn't There: The brothers' most misunderstood movie, I think. It's a black and white period piece influenced by the work of James M. Cain. Murder, jealousy and blackmail collide in a California town in the late '40s, centering on the life of a stoic barber (played by Billy Bob Thorton). A lot of people didn't get it. It's an easy film not to get, especially as it deals heavily with emptiness and hollow lives. Not an uplifting movie, but a fine motion picture (and, since it's from the Coens, you find yourself laughing and wondering if you should laugh).

-Intolerable Cruelty: The brothers' worst film, and here's my defense of them--they didn't write the screenplay. They did some touch-up work, the result a fairly funny movie that could've been done by any fresh-from-television director. The only Coen movie I'm not interested in owning. Maybe I need to give it another try. Maybe.

-Ladykillers: I haven't seen it, so I can't comment. I'm still holding off since it's a remake, and I'm scared of the slump they got into with Intolerable Cruelty.

So that's the Coens in a nutshell. They're currently working on Cormac McCarthy's No Country For Old Men, a novel that I'm currently reading. It's a grim novel, but I think they're the only ones that could bring it to the screen and capture the glimmers of hope amidst the darkness.

posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 1/01/2007 11:36:00 PM, ,