Monday, April 27, 2009

I just realized over the weekend that Ash Roth's new album, Asleep in the Bread Aisle, dropped last week, on 4/20, fittingly. I downloaded it yesterday, and after just one listen, I'm into it. I think his mixtape from last year is easier to get into because most of the beats are recognizable right off the bat, but the new album is good. I like Ash a lot for his rhymes - as juvenile and ridiculous as they can be at times, they're thoughtful overall. I'm really glad to see that The Lounge made it onto the album; that was one of my favorites from the mixtape. Asleep in the Bread Aisle is available on iTunes for only $7.99. Pick it up.

Friday, April 24, 2009

75 books in 2009

I just added a new badge to my sidebar, proclaiming my participation in a challenge to read 75 books in 2009. I've never kept track of how many books I read, or which books I read, for that matter, but I'm trying something new this year. It's kind of neat to keep track. Again with the FB I'm Reading App thing - I've been adding mini-reviews, if only for myself, each time I finish a book, including the date that I finish. Initially, when my internet book club was setting up these challenges, I unofficially decided I'd aim for 50 books in 2009. There were people challenging themselves to 25, 50, 100 and 200 books over the course of this year. Now, put some thought into that - there's 52 weeks in a year. So 200 books in a year is about 4 books a week. That's crazy talk in my world. Having never kept track of my reading before, I figured, sure, a book a week is probably about average for me, I can swing 50. But a few weeks ago, when I was at 18 books by late March, I realized that 50 wasn't going to be much of a challenge, so we did some re-configuring and a few of us decided on 75. I now know that I do not average 2 books a week, for the most part, so 100 is probably not going to happen. In fact, today I started and read most of my 23rd book for the year, but a large part of that is because I've been reading a lot of YA stuff lately, and it all reads so fast. Anyway, I will start posting updates on my progress in the sidebar. Good times.
Success. I seem to have just turned my blog into a Twitter. Weird.
Testing out mobile blogging. This could be interesting . . .

Crank: Book of the day #2

I've been reading a lot of young adult stuff lately, and enjoying most of it, but nothing as much as Crank by Ellen Hopkins. The book tells the story of 16 year old Kristina/Bree's descent into the world of meth addiction and all of the sordid details that go with it. Crank is written in verse, which really brings out the depth of the story. The writing is fantastic, and the verse style bring a feeling of swirling and tumbling with the words and with Bree/Kristina as she suffers the highs and lows of her addiction. It's fast paced, gets into the story immediately, and doesn't let up until the final page. I read it in under a day, and I recommend it to everyone.

I've always enjoyed stories like this, the teenage drug diary genre, if you will; The Basketball Diaries was a favorite of mine in high school, and I've gone through a number of others over the years. But I don't think I've found any to be quite as powerful as this one. Maybe because Kristina is such a normal, above average girl, who just finds herself in a certain place at a certain time, and gets sucked into it before she really knows how or why. I think it has a lot to do with the writing and the verse style of it, too. It's just so well told.

One review I read before I read it compared it to Go Ask Alice - the prototypical teenage drug diary of the 70's, which I had never read. After reading that review, I picked up both Crank and Go Ask Alice, and after finishing Crank yesterday, I'm about 2/3 through Go Ask Alice now. Maybe it's the time frame that's doing it, but I'm not enjoying Go Ask Alice as much. It might be a little more disturbing than Crank, sure; Alice is involved in all sorts of drugs, she's a runaway, her first trip was slipped in a soda without her consent. But, Crank is just more modern, more recent, more relevant - for me, anyway, but for the times, really. I can relate to it better - to the extent that I can relate to a 16 year old meth addict at all, but you get my meaning. I think it's a great book, and I hereby recommend it to all.

Without You: Book post of the day #1

I don't post about books very often any more, but I've read a few lately that are totally worth posting here. Since I'm home alone and sick on a Friday night, this is how I'm spending it. I slept all afternoon, and there's only so much couch lounging one can do. Incidentally, if you ever care about what I'm reading, I use the Facebook App conveniently called "I'm reading" to keep track of my books, so if you're my FB friend, just grab that app, and you'll be able to see my books. If you're not my FB friend, why not?

Okay, book number one: Without You: A Memoir of Love, Loss and the Musical Rent, by Anthony Rapp. I'm a Rent-head, and I always have been. I've seen the show something like ten times now, on Broadway, in Boston and in Providence, over the past thirteen years. Anthony Rapp, for those who know the show, was the original Mark Cohen both in the workshop productions of Rent and then on Broadway, as well as in the original London and Chicago casts, and a couple of touring casts and in the film. For those who don't know the show, Anthony Rapp played the nerdy blonde guy in Dazed and Confused - you know the one that hung out with the chick with the crazy red hair? Yup, that's him. He was also the boy being babysat in Adventures in Babysitting - I know you remember him now.

While I knew about the history of the show before reading this book, hearing it from his perspective put it in a whole new light and gave me a whole new appreciation of the show and the people involved in it. This is one of the best books I've ever read. I recognize that's a big statement, but I stand by it here. Rapp discusses the phenomenal effect that Jonathan Larson and Rent have had on his life, and truly, the effect that he and other cast members and production staff have had on the show. If you don't know the history of the show, here's a Cliff's Notes version: Jonathal Larson was a struggling writer/musician living in the East Village when he wrote Rent. A number of principal characters, and the play as a whole really, are based on his friends and his life. He saw the initial success that the show had in a first round of workshops, and was thrilled with the very idea of the play being produced at all. Jonathan Larson, then 35 died suddenly of an aneursym on the eve of the preview if the New York Theater Workshop production, making the great success that the show had experienced bittersweet, to say the least.

But this is truly a memoir, and is about so much more than just the time that Rapp spent with Rent - his writing is fantastic as he tells the stories of his life - from discovering his sexuality and some of the trials of his early relationships, to his mother's battle with cancer and its effect on him. He writes with a confessional honesty, a brutal, no-holds-barred approach to the truth, both the external, factual truth and the internal truth of his feelings and emotions during these challenging and trying points in his life. A number of times as I was reading, I found myself shaking my head saying "wow" out loud to no one in particular. Truly a fantastic book.

My one caveat about this book is that if you haven't seen the show, and you disapprove of spoilers, stay away. You will learn a lot about the touching and poignant history of Rent, and about the music and story of the play and the amazing people and stories that surround it, and the ending is discussed. Fair warning. This book is a must read if you're a fan of Rent, but even if you're not, it's just a great book; one of the best I've read, for sure.

As a side note - Rapp is touring with Rent this summer, along with Adam Pascal, who played Roger Davis on Broadway, and won a Tony for that performance. The tour schedule, along with other information about the show is available here.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Snakes on a Plane

I love this film. It came out a few years ago, but it has caught my attention again recently because a) it's on TV this weekend, and b) because of this article. I literally laughed out loud when I saw the article, and was blown away by the fact that the article didn't even mention the movie.

It's on TV this weekend, but you know that's going to suck. Truly, I should own the DVD, preferably on Blu-Ray. Snakes on a Plane in HD? It can't possibly get much better than that. Unfortunately, I looked into purchasing the Blu-Ray, and it isn't available yet. I hope that they will make it, though. Until then I may need to just give in and purchase the regular DVD. I went to see it in the theater when it came out. I'm such a fan. I think Snakes on a Plane is a new classic. Plus, I adore Samuel L Jackson and the middle initial thing he has going on.


1) SLJ's line about the MFing snakes on the MFing plane wasn't even in the script, nor were most of the classic lines and scenes. They wrapped principal photography and then 6 months later went back and shot for 5 more days to put in a lot of that stuff because all of the blogs and message boards had sprouted up on the internet making fan-trailers and spoofs. So before the movie was even done, it was a cult classic and fans were helping write it. (One of the best such websites, and one that sort of sums up the whole fan-dom that came with this film is Snakes on a Blog. It's great.)

2) SLJ's agent told producers that they had to change the name, because SLJ couldn't work on a movie with such a ridiculous title. Producers were willing to change it. When SLJ found out about this he flipped out and said, "no, we're changing that title right back to Snakes on a Plane - that's the only reason I took this job, was because of the title."

I am a wealth of useless Snakes on a Plane knowledge. Very nice. If you have not seen this film, please do yourself a favor and go rent it.