Friday, August 29, 2014

A Few Great Moments (Book Review)

Published: September 2013
The Book of Goodbyes - Jillian Weise C

This book was the winner of the 2013 James Laughlin Award, winner of the 2013 Isabella Gardner Poetry Award, and recognized by NPR and Publishers Weekly as one of the best books of 2013.  I think I expected more than it could deliver. There are a few outstanding moments, but not nearly enough to warrant a higher grade.  That being said, I think Jillian Weise is an intriguing writer and I'd be curious to read more of her work. A few of my favorite poems from The Book of Goodbyes include:
Up Late and Likewise
I've Been Waiting All Night
Poem for His Ex
Poem for His Girl

Thursday, August 28, 2014

All My Friends & Lovers (Book Review)

Originally Published: 1986
The Ballad of Sexual Dependency - Nan Goldin B+ 
The Ballad of Sexual Dependency is Nan Goldin's most seminal work. This visual dairy chronicles the life and times of her friends and lovers (i.e. her "tribe") spanning from the late 70s to the mid 80s. These photographs are not glamorous, they are real life... warts and all. I can see why many consider this a classic. The photos lingered with me long after I closed the book. Each time I re-examine the pages I find something I didn't see before. The good times, the bad, the longing, and the introspection are uniquely captured here. Reading about Goldin's life and the story behind the photographs add fascinating depth and perspective. This is very interesting work indeed.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Off-Roading (Book Review)

Published: September 1957
On the Road - Jack Kerouac C-

On the Road wore out its welcome. I was sort of diggin' it at first, the Colorado stuff was interesting. But, eventually I grew tired of the characters - Sal's ramblings and Dean's antics. I just wanted it to end. On the Road may have been a trendsetter in 1957; however, it doesn't feel vital to me now.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Crushing It (Book Review)

Crush - Richard Silken B-

Published: April 2005
Some have described this book as a cult classic. I have seen so many good reviews of this book I feel like I should like it more than I did. Reading the poems over and over is not just a suggestion, it's a requirement with Richard Siken's award winning debut, Crush. These poems pulled me in, disenchanted me, and pulled me in again. Crush didn't dazzle me as a whole; however, there are moments of pure mastery-

"Tell me about the dream where we pull the bodies out of the lake/ and dress them in warm clothes again./ How it was late, and no one could sleep, the horses running/ until they forget that they are horses." ~From the opening poem, "Scheherazade"

What I admire most about these poems is their ability to feel so damn emotionally vulnerable. As I revisit them in the near future, I hope to peel back the layers I initially missed because my expectations were so high.

Favorite poems include: "Scheherazade," "Driving, Not Washing," "Visible World," and "Dirty Valentine"

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Antagonistic World Peace May Not Be For Everyone (Album Review)

Released: July 2014 
World Peace is None of Your Business - Morrissey B
Misery Loves Company

The more I listen to World Peace is None of Your Business, the more I like the tracks that initially didn't catch my ear. This latest offering from Moz is a hard listen. It's an album that will surely satisfy Moz's core fans, but may or may not convert new listeners. World Peace, his first album in five years, is antagonistic. On the track, "I'm Not a Man," Moz challenges macho stereotypes and delivers the most memorable barb on an album full of memorable barbs - "wolf down, wolf down, T-bone steak, wolf down cancer of the prostate." Track seven, "The Bullfighter Dies," is a short but rousing animal lover's anthem that's sure to please diehard fans. As will the album's second single, "Istanbul," which finds Moz sounding virile and vital on the album's most confident track.

After repeated listens, "Neal Cassady Drops Dead" and "Kiss Me A Lot" may not to have the staying power I initially thought. That's also the case with the flamenco-flavored "Earth is the Loneliest Plant," where our good looking man about town croons, "humans are not really very humane."

Nonetheless, World Peace is more enjoyable than 2009's Years of Refusal. Years is my least favorite Moz solo album and ironically the album Moz claimed to be most proud of in 2011. While World Peace isn't a homerun, it's a solid effort worth listening to. At 55 years of age, Moz is still making interesting and important music. Misery rarely sounds this lovely and sincere.

Favorite tracks include: "I'm Not a Man," "Istanbul," "The Bullfighter Dies," "Kick the Bride Down the Aisle," and "Oboe Concerto."

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Life Itself - Movie Review

Life Itself (R) 120 mins A-
See you at the movies

Starring Roger Ebert, Chaz Ebert, Gene Siskel, Martin Scorsese, Werner Herzog, Ramin Bahrani, Marlene Iglitzen, and the voice of Stephen Stanton

Based on his memoir of the same name, Life Itself is an extremely fascinating, highly entertaining, and ultimately heart-wrenching documentary film that chronicles the life of Roger Ebert. It revealed a side of Ebert that I never knew about - the drinking, the arrogance, the brooding and what one of his friend's called, "the worst possible taste in women." The film also inspired me because he was so passionate, engaging, and open to new/independent film endeavors. But all of that being said, it's impossible to escape the presence of cancer. The disease took a devastating toll on Ebert and those around him. After watching the graphic nature of his battle against cancer, it's hard not to feel sad, helpless and scared. One film critic (who I can't remember) wrote that Life Itself documents "a life well lived." I would add that it also documents how the love of film, love of a companion, love of a great story, can keep us inspired and alive in the face of adversity.