The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

This book was interesting and kept me engaged the whole time I was reading it. I did tend to skim some sections, though. Sometimes it was because the ins and outs of furniture restoration were being described or periods of drug use resulted in stream-of-consciousness-type prose. Other times it was because the story was exciting and I couldn't wait to find out what happened. I have very mixed feelings about the book because I didn't like the main character, but the self-reflection at the end of the story may have been worth it. I'm not sure.

There were a few nitpicky things that bothered me in the writing. The author is very detail-oriented about so many things, but it took me out of the story when she tried to convey teenagers texting. Not only does no one text like that ("He only likes 2go 2 3mpty rstrnts where nobody goes"), but this story is supposed to be reconstructed by journal entries from the main character. Why would a teen transcribe the "txt-speak" instead of writing the gist of the conversation? Also, someone should let the author know that restarting your computer does not clear your browser history, no matter how many times you restart it.

I was really affected by this story. At a particularly low point in the main character's life, I found myself in a bad mood for most of the day. I laughed out loud pretty hard at a few things. I was shocked by some turns of events. The end of the book gave me a lot to think about.

Overall, I think I had a love/hate relationship with this book. There were things I really liked and things I really disliked. I probably wouldn't recommend it to anyone, but I wouldn't say I didn't like it, either.

Reignwolf at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame 07/23/2014

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has a free concert series every summer. I was ecstatic when I found out Reignwolf would be one of the featured artists. This is a band I have been pretty excited about since first hearing their first single in January.

I hadn't heard of the opening band before, but I checked them out after seeing them listed on the schedule. Thaddeus Anna Greene are a blues/soul rock band from Cleveland with a frontman reminiscent of Jimmy Hendrix. They put on a pretty good show. The music was great, but it was slightly disappointing that TJ Maclin turned around to face the drummer for almost every guitar solo. The drummer has seen his work, the fans should get a chance!

Thaddeus Anna Greene

Where Thaddeus Anna Greene were tight and controlled in their performance, pouring out the grooves to the audience, Reignwolf was unhinged and reckless, slamming the crowd in the face with crushing riffs. The main ingredient to the Reignwolf sound and experience is founding member Jordan Cook. In less than a minute of taking the stage, he attempted standing atop one of his monitors, tipped it over, and fell flat to the stage. After picking himself up and resuming his jam, he quickly worked his way around another speaker and got his guitar cord caught. This resulted in a trip and the cord coming unplugged. What an entrance. Luckily, he managed to stay upright for the rest of the show and there weren't any more gear glitches.

Reignwolf

Speaking of gear, it was pretty cool that Cook played an electric mandolin for, rather fittingly, "The Mandolin Song". The second guitarist/bassist, Stitch Rapaport, plays something he developed and calls a Buitar. It allows him to play both bass and guitar at the same time without much compromise to either sound.

Reignwolf

At one point, the other two members of the band left the stage and Cook was playing guitar and drums at the same time.

Reignwolf

It was an intense show. I think it was soon after the next picture was taken, that one of the strings broke on his guitar and he kept wailing away at it. Then he laid it down on the stage and kept wailing while ripping out the other strings till there was nothing left. A couple more smacks at the pickups then he stood up, said thanks, and walked off the stage. They had only played four songs.

Reignwolf

At this point, I thought maybe that was really it. I had only ever heard four of their songs before. They haven't released an album yet. I thought maybe that was all they had.

Then one of the more dedicated fans jumped up on the stage and led the crowd in chanting for an encore and the band acquiesced. Cook picked up a new guitar and dropped down into the audience. I was standing right next to him as he started rocking out once more. I tried to get a picture, but he was seriously so close that they all came out blurry because my phone couldn't focus. I almost got hit in the face a couple times, but it was awesome.

When he got back on the stage, he asked a kid who looked about 12 years old if he would hold the mic for him. That kid's face said that this was the most amazing thing that ever happened to him. He stood in awe the whole time he was holding the mic up.

Reignwolf

The concert started at 7 and was over well before 10. I think it may have been the earliest I ever got home from a concert. Even so, it was definitely a show I would have paid to see. I think the rock hall is pretty great for putting on a public free event for everyone to enjoy some amazing music in our beloved city.

The Rock Hall at sunset

Related Links

Fraud, Deception And Lies: How Discovery’s Shark Week Became The Greatest Show On Earth

Link: http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/science-sushi/2014/07/18/fraud-deception-lies-discoverys-shark-week-became-greatest-show-earth/#.U8sXArG4PN8

Their sensationalized programming, shoddy fact-checking, outright fictions and unethical PR have transformed them. Like P.T. Barnum and the showmen of old, they happily sacrifice the truth to draw a bigger crowd and do whatever it takes for money and fame. Discovery no longer seems to care about the ‘highest quality content’—so long as they can become The Greatest Show On Earth.

Joe Kelly, Deadpool #25

You must listen...without free will...true, pain dies out...but so does evolution. Without struggle...without the drive to better oneself, there is no art, no music...no courage...no revolution. No love. All that remains is ignorant bliss...until death...not just of the individual...but your entire race.

Noah

WARNING: This review contains spoilers.

All right, let's get the obvious stuff out of the way. This movie is not Biblically accurate.

  • In the film, Noah's sons don't have wives. This is actually used as a major plot point. Ham is really worried about the fact that he won't have a wife after the flood.
  • God doesn't speak to Noah in words, but through visions.
  • The bad guy stows away on the ark. Which leads to Ham teaming up with him and someone getting killed.
  • After the flood, Noah does not make a sacrifice to the Creator.
  • Noah doesn't curse Ham for his actions while Noah was drunk.

When Noah recounts the story of how the Creator made everything, evolutionary creation is shown. There are many who feel strongly that the creation account in the Bible should be taken literally, so that scene will probably rub them the wrong way.

I've read some reviews that take exception with the movie's portrayal of Noah as a vegetarian. The truth is, the Bible does say that God didn't permit man to eat meat until after the flood. (Genesis 9:3)

Of course, there are liberties taken which we can't possibly know if they are accurate or not. Was Methuselah a man of God who guided Noah and performed miracles? Did Noah and his family use incense to put the animals to sleep while they were on the ark? Anyone making a movie based on this story would have to fill in some of the blanks to make it worth watching. I mean, Noah doesn't even have any dialog in the Biblical account.

The biggest thing people notice that the movie added to the story was the group of giant rock creatures called Watchers that help Noah build the ark and fight off bad guys. A Watcher is actually a type of angel mentioned in the book of Daniel chapter 4. It is a Watcher (sometimes translated Messenger) that appears to Nebuchadnezzar in a vision.

The books of Enoch (referenced by Jude and likely known by first century Jews) spend a lot of time talking about the Watchers. The movie presents an unlikely representation of them, though. The huge rock creatures might have been inspired by the line "place upon [them] rough and jagged rocks" in 1 Enoch 10:5. But the text says there were 200 of them and they produced offspring with human women. There are only about 10 Watchers in the movie and it seems impossible that they could mate with humans. The story of the Watchers isn't represented correctly according to the books of Enoch in many other ways, but those are the two initial glaring inaccuracies I noticed.

Overall, I feel that the writer did his research on the story of Noah, then picked the elements that he found most compelling and tweaked some facts to create his idea of a great cinematic experience. That being said, I think he preserved most of the themes of the Bible story. Man's betrayal of the Creator. The wickedness of all mankind. The judgment visited on the world because of man. Noah's trust in God. How God provides for his children. All of these themes are included in the movie. Not only are they there, but they are powerfully presented.

This movie portrays the horrors of the story that are often ignored. God wiped out all life on the Earth. It's one thing to acknowledge that and another to see people climbing on top of each other, trying to stay above the water as the land disappears beneath them. This wasn't just a story of cute animals and a kind, smiling man on a boat. Every kind of snake was on the ark and the flood was a distressing event for Noah and his family.

The film also examines the human struggle with God's will and character. Noah struggles with what he feels is a lack of guidance from God. It is not outside the limits of the human mind for Noah to come to the conclusion that God wants all humans dead. He sees the wickedness in the world outside, but he also recognizes the evil living within each of his family members. He knows that God desires righteousness. Mankind has failed and now deserves to be wiped out. Why should his family be spared that judgment? Noah looks for a sign from God that his family should be spared, but there isn't one. God leaves him to discover on his own that there is goodness within humanity worth saving. Just because the Creator isn't communicating directly with Noah, that doesn't mean he's not going to learn how to carry out His will.

There were more changes to the story than I feel were necessary. Nevertheless, it was a thought-provoking film in the best possible way. The questions it raises, the themes it portrays, and the God it alludes to are not misleading.

Ignoring the Biblical aspect of it for a moment, this was a really great film. The acting, visual effects, and drama were all exceptional. It tugged at my emotions and made me care about the characters. It made me think about the motivations for their actions and relate to them. The concepts of love, confusion, dedication, and betrayal were explored with believability.

But there's no getting around the fact that it is supposed to be based on a Bible story. If you can ignore the factual inaccuracies and appreciate the conceptual veracity, I think you will enjoy this film. On the other hand, if it bothers you that the writer twisted some of the details, you won't be able to get past them. You would spend the whole movie thinking about how wrong they got so many things.

I can't fault anyone for skipping Noah, but if you are curious I encourage you to give it a go. It's quite a ride.

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