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Saturday, January 16, 2010

Muse and Twilight

I never heard of the Twilight books until my son brought one home and told me it was about vampires. I promptly forgot about it. Then the students in my creative writing class repeatedly named it as their favorite book/series. During winter break 2008. The first book sucked me in as that genre can do, but I was a bit sickened over the simpering heroine.
But the truth is, gothic heroines are always a bit simpering, I suppose by their very nature they must be, how else could Victorian writers get it on without being "taken" as it were. I mean, gothic novels were like Victorian soft-porn, and female novelist were still trying to shrug off the "scribbler" appellation attached to them by that giant ass Samuel Jackson--I think it was him.
Since then I have read all the books voraciously, if a bit embarrassed, (especially when I bought the hard-cover of the last title).
I noticed that she thanked the band Muse, and Radiohead, which, if you've read my previous posts, are my Gods.
I picked up the latest issue of Muse cuz I liked the song "Uprising." There are at least 4 songs that seem a bit original. The rest owe a huge debt to Todd Rundgren's "Hermit of Mink Hollow," and, to anyone with ears, "Queen." I think that Muse has the potential of becoming a great band, once they grow into their own.


  1. I think a lot of contemporary bands are derivative of Radiohead.

  2. Hello Ms. Teutsch,
    This is my first time blogging, so I hope I am doing this right. The book series "Twilight" was not appealing to my appetite, but since some of my classmates have grown very fond of it, I might have to read the first chapter to see if I like it or not. Muse is new to my musical rolodex, but I have a co-worker that listens to Muse and Queen, so I hope she can lend me her ear.

  3. The Coldest Winter Ever: Book Review

    This book portrays an intense look at Brooklyn, New York’s harsh reality, from the perspective of a young black teenager/woman. If you like a romantic street tale with all the drama regarding street-life, this is definitely the book to fulfill your appetite. At first, the book cover through me off, but the first page had me hooked from beginning to end. This is a book that can actually pull an individual within the story, and for me it even felt like I knew this very mature and high-maintenance female from Brooklyn. It is definitely a senior/freshman college novel, and if you’re a little older, it allows you to remember the times when you were trying to be in the “in-crowd.” Sistah Souljah is the novelist, and she tales this story from the first person perspective, which possesses a unique intimacy. I realized from her detailed descriptiveness that she may have experienced some or all of what the character in the book was living.

    Her bold choice of words, dance around the page creating a sense of well orchestrated reflections of profanity, secretly satisfying the jittery reader. Nevertheless, Sistah Souljah’s books leave me wanting more, but she hasn’t provided a sequel, or the anticipated movie she was supposed to create using the storyboard of “The Coldest Winter Ever.” Finally, if you want to explore a rough world on the East Coast, this is might fulfill your paperback appetite.

  4. John Legend: Music Review

    John Stephens was born in 1978 to a seamstress and a factory worker. Despite his humble beginnings he has made a new name for himself, John Legend the recording artist. He has always had a love for music. He learned to play the piano at the age of four, performed with his church choir at the age of seven and now is the recipient of six Grammy Awards. His music is not limited by labels. He has the soft sound of pop, the soulful rhythms of R&B and smooth tones for any music enthusiastic.

    He connects to his listeners as a preacher to his congregation. There are moments of jubilation and flashes of tremendous sorrow. I first became familiar with Legend on YouTube. I was looking for a song that could connect to me and how I was feeling one particular day. That is when I stumbled across, I won’t Complain performed by Legend. I closed my eyes, leaned back in my computer chair and let his music penetrate my heart. I felt the pain in his voice and I was rescued by his sense of gratitude. His songs come from somewhere deep inside. Each title has a different theme and yet connects with the listener in an intimate way. His voice is persuasive and yet not assaulting.

    I am grateful that John Stephens, John
    Legend, stumbled across my ears and my heart. He is a delight to listen to and brings calm to the restless soul. Legend's music goes beyond the notes and as far as any listen lets the lyrics reach.

  5. In May 2009, mewithoutYOU released their fourth album called It’s All Crazy! It’s All False! It’s All A Dream! It’s Alright! Their newest album is by far their catchiest, straying away from their normal jamming rhythms and wailing vocals, to opting for a more poppy sing-along cd. The album features many song versions of fables written by of Bawa Muhaiyaddeen, a sufi teacher, which helps it to be lyrically sharp and heavy. This album may be the catalyst need to further propel mewithoutYOU into the mainstream.

  6. *The Builders and The Butchers - Music Review*
    By Amanda Batista --Creative Writing 31

    The Builders and The Butchers are a folk rock band based in Portland, Oregon--though they originated from Alaska. Their current members joined between 2002-2005. On their Myspace page, their band members are listed as, "Brandon, Ryan, Harvey, Alex, Ray, and Friends". They have a very particular style, and the band focuses on a particular subject that I'll get into more in a bit. Despite being of an easily identified genre with songs of a same essential theme, this band is known to incorporate unorthodox instruments in their live shows, and manage to keep their inspiration and creativity fresh and ever-changing throughout their work. As a folk band, their music has heavy elements of bluegrass, gospel, blues, and other forms of American root music.

    But I've mentioned that The Builders and The Butchers have a common "theme", a constant focus, a frequent subject for their songs. What is it? Simple. It is death. The Builders and The Butchers sing dirges, songs of loss, songs of tragedy, and lyrical eulogies. They have even been called "Southern Gothic". While this may come across as depressing and dark to many, all one needs to do is take a listen to "Vampire Lake" or "Slowed Down Trip To Hell" to see that liveliness is not unknown to a musical group dedicated to singing about the ultimate end and the greatest of losses. The Builders and The Butchers, whom I had the pleasure of seeing live, delight in experimenting on stage, and often invite guest performers to add a special dimension to their songs not heard on their studio albums. The performance I attended even had the band passing out instruments for audience members to participate. But this group is not guilty of being incredible live, and poor in a studio. Their recorded albums display crisp sound, and still retain much of the energy seen on stage.

    The Builders and the Butchers are epic, and I do not mean that in the slang sense of the word. I mean--their music touches your heart in a way that makes your throat tight, your eyes misty, and your heart palpitate. I mean--The Builders and The Butchers can sing (and HAVE sung) stories, actually stories, that make you imagine vibrant characters in a drama. They take the glory of an existence, and bring it to its end, congealing all of life's greatest emotions to that last moment when a human being closes its eyes and does not open them again.

    If you liked films such as "O' Brother Where Art Thou?", "Bonnie and Clyde", "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Redford", "There Will Be Blood", or any Western cowboy film--or if you liked any story from Mark Twain--then I recommend The Builders and The Butchers. I list the names of these films and even Mark Twain because of this band's storytelling abilities in music, because of the settings and situations that inspire much of their songs, and because of the "film soundtrack" feel they deliver. Musically, I recommend The Builders and The Butchers to anyone who enjoyed Moby's songs: "Run On", "Natural Blues", "Honey", and "Flower".

    NOTE: I did not save my previous review for Gnarls Barkley on my computer because I posted it directly onto the discussion board, and now Week 2 is unavailable for viewing, so I cannot copy and paste. Therefor, I have opted to do a new review for another band I love. I hope this is not a problem.

    (I am following with bloglovin under my Hartnell email [batistaa (AT) student (DOT) hartnell (DOT) edu]. Also following under personal email [illisenine (AT) gmail (DOT) com] as Illise Montoya on Blogger.)

  7. Taylor Swift- Music Review
    By Treya Winfield Creative Writing 32

    When I first heard of Taylor Swift, I’ll admit I was a skeptic. I categorized her with all the other Disney-made pop stars that prepubescent girls everywhere worshipped and I teased any of my friends that listened to her music. But I was wrong! Taylor Swift is not another Miley Cyrus or Selena Gomez; this girl is extremely talented. Not only does she have a beautiful voice, but she plays the guitar and writes her own songs! At fourteen, Taylor was the youngest person to ever become a professional songwriter for Sony/ATV Publishing and at seventeen, she became the youngest person to ever write and then sing her own #1 country hit. Now I’m not a big country fan, but what I found most compelling about her music is how relatable it is; it’s practically the soundtrack to any girl’s life! She sings about everything from heartbreak ("Forever and Always") to head over heels love ("Love Story") and everything in between. One particular song of hers that I can’t quite seem to get out of my head is "You Belong with Me," a song about a girl who knows that the guy she likes is dating a girl who is all wrong for him. Taylor is refreshing in an era where a lot of pop music is over-sexed and auto-tuned; she puts romance back into love songs. People enjoy the simplicity and innocence of her music; she even sold out Madison Square Garden in 60 seconds! I believe that Taylor Swift is someone to watch and listen to for years to come; she will definitely become one of the greatest pop icons of our generation.

  8. I will be reviewing Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West, written by Gregory Maguire. Wicked is a parallel novel, derived from another work of fiction. In this case, the other work of fiction Wicked is based on is L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. As the title implies, Wicked is the story of Elphaba, more commonly known as the Wicked Witch of the West. Born green-skinned, Elphaba is nothing more than misunderstood. The story begins in Munchkin land, where Elphaba grows up. Caring for her crippled sister Nessarose leads to her attending Shiz University, where she meets and eventually befriends Galinda, later known as Glinda the Good Witch of the North. At Shiz, Elphaba begins sorcery lessons as well as becoming involved in animal rights. Animals were a part of society; the history professor was a goat. Slowly animals started to lose their rights, and Elphaba is very passionate about saving them. The book follows Elphaba to Emerald City and her reactions to a corrupt government. Taking a childhood favorite and classic like the Wizard of Oz and giving the characters a back-story gives a whole new perspective. Good and evil aren’t always easily established and Wicked illustrates this sentiment.
    The book was made into a Tony-Award winning Broadway musical. It is currently playing at the Orpheum Theater in San Francisco. Musical fan or not, I suggest you see it. It is a brilliant production.

  9. Book Review: Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz.
    A couple of books that I love and cherish are a series called Odd Thomas. The author is Dean Koontz who usually writes thrillers much like Stephen King novels but in a different way and with a lot less detail. However, in this tale you meet Odd Thomas, a man who is a very young, witty, and charming and sees ghosts. This seems very unlike Dean Koontz to have such a cheesy and cliché story line because his usual context includes brutality, suspense and well, not people who see ghosts. It was unlike anything I read of Dean Koontz, which I love as well, but it was a more positive aspect on his stories. Sure, it still had suspense and such but it incased love, humor and wit. The stories are about this man Odd who talks to ghosts and helps them solve mysteries. The ghosts usually give him hints although the hard part is, they cannot talk, and they can only do body movement and show him the way. You can see his struggle and the funniest part of the books as that Odd’s main accomplice in solving these mysteries is Elvis Presley who helps him in any way he can. These books are highly recommended by me as well as highly addicting!

  10. MUSIC
    I mainly listen to Christian music these days which I thoroughly enjoy and can't imagine why I didn't spend more time doing so before. One of my favorite group is Third Day, a CCM and Christian rock band from Marietta, Georgia.The band was founded by lead singer Mac Powell, guitarist Mark Lee and former member Billy Wilkins[1]. The other band members are bassist Tai Anderson and drummer David Carr. The band's name is a reference to the Biblical account of Jesus rising from the dead on the third day following his Crucifixion. The band was inducted in the Georgia Music Hall of Fame on September 19, 2009. Lead singer Mac Powell has a very distinct and easily recognizable voice. One that takes you before the throne of Grace and leaves you feeling as if you are in the presence of God. I especially enjoy his rendition of "Agnus Dei" (Lamb of God)and "Your love Oh Lord." The album is called "Offerings: a worship album," check it out. I guarantee you'll enjoy it.

  11. Book Review: Like Water for Chocolate
    This is a book that appealed to both young and old audience. It was written by Laura Esquivel, a Mexican-American novelist. It was in part romance, recipes and cures. It tells a story of love and forbidden passion from her family’s history and the bold traditions that kept her heroine Tita from marrying Pedro Muzquiz, the man she loved.
    The main topic is the love between Tita and Pedro, but he was forced to marry Tita’s sister Rosaura. Tita and Pedro later became lovers, however their lovemaking lacked the tenderness, the author led us to expect. It was more like a hurried frantic rape, than passionate and long overdue lovemaking.
    Meanwhile Mama Elena ruled her house with an iron fist, terrorizing her servants and children alike forcing them into submission. Like water for chocolate was an interesting, yet somewhat strange novel to read. Between intrigue and disbelief, I kept hoping that Tita and Pedro would come to their senses and run off together, instead they resorted to having tawdry affairs that left me feeling a bit let down, especially with their love scenes.
    I did not like the way she treated her sister either. Rosaura was just as much a victim of Mama Elena iron fisted rules as she was. Sure she could have done what her other sister Gertrudis did and just run away, instead she choose to stay and obediently marry the spineless Pedro, who in my opinion did not deserve neither one of those girls.

  12. Julie Garcia Book Review

    I thought I would write about a novel I read a few semesters ago, Song of Solomon, by Toni Morrison. Toni Morrison is a highly recognized author. She Is a the winner of a Nobel prize and a Pulitzer prize.
    This novel focuses on Macon Dead better known as Milkman, as he was named after a man saw his mother breastfeeding him as an older child. Milkman doesn’t really know where he comes from nor does he care at the beginning of the story. He can’t ask his hardworking father who cares to much about being successful. He meets his aunt, who is a bit strange, and does not talk to Milkman’s father, but she is the only one who knows about his history. Milkman goes on a journey, first to find gold, and later it turns into a journey to finds himself.
    This is the first book I have ever read where every detail was thought of carefully. You can find symbolism everywhere. The author put a lot of thought into naming the characters. Names where an important part of the book, how Milkman got his name and how the names in his family were lost. It states the importance of knowing your history.
    I thought the book was great. I was lost at the beginning but that happens to me with a lot of books. This book made me think about writing. It made me wonder what the author was thinking about as she wrote this novel. Did she know how it was going to end when she started?
    Did she intend on having the names be important? This novel was so well thought out that I couldn’t help but like it even though it tortures me that I cant know exactly what Toni Morrison was thinking.

  13. Album Review: Absolute Dance Autumn

    After a series of hit-and-miss albums, “Absolute Dance: Autumn” returns with more of the same, but in varying extremes now. As a compilation album, what the album does well is find some exciting new dance tunes, and for what it doesn’t do well is keep up the pace with those same tunes. While the album scores high with catchy tunes like the Jason Nevin’s remix of “Now I’m That Bitch”, and “Patron, Tequila”, it falls straight on its ass when songs like “Ayo Technology” start – a low tempo song that sounds like someone is trying much too hard to impress. Such songs would be good in theory to have because of their rarity, but as a whole, do not add to the value of the collection and cheapen it. This is especially disappointing when songs like the riveting remix of “Boom Boom Pow” are followed by a cheap rip off remix of “Leave the World Behind”. The music in the collection that is good is amazing. The music that is bad in the collection is tolerable, but only because you know that something better is coming along. For every three songs that aim to please, you’ll get at least one that you know the author put in him or herself for some self-serving reason – if only to entertain themselves. Overall, if I were to rate this in stars, I would rate it with the exact ratio of good to bad songs that it presented me with, and that’s three out of four.

    Review: 3 out of 4

  14. I was looking threw some of my 25 year old play list on her IPod and I must say that I was shocked. When I was that age I remimber the music that I use to listen to was about love and falling in love. Now the music is about you do not need a man and that if your man doesn't do right get a new one. I can only think what that is doing for male vs female song and dance.

  15. Movie review. Friday Night Lights
    The football movie that came out in 2004 is a rare, but special movie unlike all sports movie it came with a better ending. When I first saw the movie on HBO it hit me more than any sport movie had before. I have feelings although I hardly ever cry in movies but this movie made a tear come out of my eyes. The movie is actually based on a true story, it is talked place in Odessa, Texas, where football is a big story. This team is known for being one of the best in the state, so they boys on the football team have to carry the tradition. The last year for most of the boys playing, they were hurt battled made the playoffs by a coin toss, lost their star running back, and still managed to go to the state championship. Like in all movies the team always wins at the end which to me doesn’t teach much to a person. Winning is not always everything, so they went up against the biggest high school football players you will ever see. Other team from Dallas was a challenge, and they stepped up to the field to play. The Dallas team got off to a good start and was winning by a margin. Of course Odessa like predicted did not give up they came back and never stopped playing. It went down to the forth quarter and was down by four points and had to score a touchdown. They drove down the field time running out, seconds left on the clock. In your mind you say to yourself are they going to score what is the play that gets them in their to win the game. When it comes down to the last play everyone is thinking a pass because their ten yards away but they run it. In detail the boy won’t stop running and refuses to get tackled. Two yards away he dives and the boy sneaks in but is half a yard shy and times runs out for the team that gave it their all but came up short. They lost the game where they came from behind and never gave up. It seems that this story tells a lot more because they lost and learned winning is not part of being perfect.

  16. Music Review by Lisa Padgett

    Black Eyed Peas: The E.N.D. (The Energy Never Dies)

    Black Eyed Peas formed in 1995, with members will.i.am, playing various instruments, apl.de.ap, vocals, Taboo, vocals and Kim Hill, vocals (1995-2000). Fergie, vocals, didn't join the B.E.P until 2003. They have put out five albums to date, The E.N.D. being the lastest and greatest. The B.E.P. are classified as a hip-hop group, yet this new album would be classified under electro-hop. Bringing a newer audience to the playing field. Changing with the times and demand.

    I, myself think that The E.N.D. is an awesome album because it's catchy, yet relatable. The use of instruments and vocals plays a big role in the funkiness of their songs. They are melodic and soulful, with a dance beat that you can't keep from bobbing your head to or getting up out of your chair and dancing to.

    They were nominated for six different Grammy's this year, only winning three categories, still taking home more Grammy's than ever before. The Black Eyed Peas are also on the elite list of having held both the No. 1 "I gotta feeling" and No. 2 "Boom Boom Pow" spots on the Billboard chart for consecutive weeks.

    There are funky songs, soft songs, "dirty" songs and melodic songs on the album The E.N.D and it draws me in. I have already recommended it to several of my friends and several people that I do not know well. It's a different change of pace from the drawn out hip-hop that is all around and also brings out the electronic beats of one of the greatest djs around, David Guetta, who is working with several different artists to produce a mixture of electronic and hip-hop, making electro-hop.

    I will be going to the Black Eyed Peas concert April 2, 2010 at the HP Pavilion in San Jose.

  17. Aubrey “Drake” Graham – So Far Gone mixtape

    Aubrey “Drake” Graham is a 23 year old actor/singer/rapper from Toronto, Canada. Drake spent some of his childhood summers in Memphis, Tennessee with his father and grew up in an affluent Jewish community in Toronto with his mother. Aubrey’s early years were spent acting on Degrassi: The Next Generation and writing and recording music on his spare time under the stage name “Drake.”

    To date, Drake has released three mixtapes: Room for Improvement, Comeback Season, So Far Gone, and one LP: So Far Gone. Along with various collaborations with big name artists like Jay-Z, Kanye West, Little Wayne, Robin Thicke, and Jamie Foxx, to name a few, Drake has internet mixtapes put together by websites and fans alike.

    So Far Gone differs from Drake’s first two mixtapes in several ways. While Room for Improvement had a hip-hop feel, with beats from underground hip-hop producer 9th Wonder and samples from classics like Stevie Wonder’s “My Cherie Amour” and “Sweet Love” by Anita Baker, Comeback Season was what got Little Wayne’s attention. Wayne himself is featured ad-libbing on his own track, “Man of the Year,” with additional cameos by Trey Songz, Slum Village, and a music video for his single “Replacement Girl,” Drake was on his way to success, but not without putting in work.

    With So Far Gone, Drake took a more experimental approach. He samples songs from indie artists, such Peter Bjorn, and John and Lykke Li and even has R&B tracks like “A Night Off” and “Housatlantavegas.” On So Far Gone, Drake again shows his well connectedness in the hip-hop community and features major players like Bun B, Lil Wayne, Trey Songz, Lloyd, and Omarion. The R&B tracks do not feature rapping, Drake steps outside his element and actually sings on them. More upbeat songs like “Best I Ever Had,” and, incidentally, his hit single, show his playful side. So Far Gone truly is a mixtape, and an influential one, at that. With the release of So Far Gone, Drake gained widespread recognition within the hip-hop community and made a name for himself in popular music, even receiving a grammy nomination without releasing an album.

  18. The Book of Basketball- A Review

    With the "Book of Basketball", Bill Simmons tries to do several things: Provide a telling of the history of the NBA that isn't always what is told in the "textbooks", solve the questions "Who are the best NBA players ever?" and "Who are the best NBA teams ever?", and not bore the reader to sleep while doing so. Unfortunately he doesn't always accomplish the last one.
    The book opens with an overview of how Bill Simmons came to love basketball. This story is loaded with his funny ancedotes and side notes and gets the book off to a good start. The next part of the book is where the "real" book begins, as Bill dwelves into the history of the NBA and how it is has changed and morphed into what it is today. This part proves to be both informative and interesting as Bill has a knack of telling stories in a humorous and engaging way. However, in the next part of the book Bill attempts to rank the best NBA players of all time. This is where the book falls apart, as only the most die-hard fan could brave these 200+ pages of Bill ranting about players that have long since been gone from the basketball spotlight. Bill seems set on proving that yesterday's basketball players were so much better than today's and his bias really dampers the enjoyment of the book.
    Overall the book is an enjoyable read for the most part, but only for true basketball lovers. Any one else I suggest should stay far, far away from this book; unless they need a good sleep aid.

    -Nathan Brown

  19. “What Happy Woman Know” by Dan Baker and Cathy Greenburg

    This book has been an inspiration to me and many others nationally. The authors have a unique way of bringing perspective in the ways you approach life and its obstacles. It has personally changed my life drastically, forcing me to mentally step back and look at how I approach things. One of the authors is a psychologist who shares the stories of woman who have come to her, bringing insight on becoming a stronger person. The most important thing I got from this book was that only I can make me happy and I live by that to this day.
    Not only is the book a female bible but it’s written in plain context. The book is easy to read and follow. I would recommend this book to anyone male or female. Men for the possibility they might learn a thing or two.