22
Oct08

King of the Delta Blues

Posted by: Cipo007

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Robert Johnson………..the Complete Recordings

If you want a free lesson in blues and soul music, get this NOW.  You don’t even have to buy it; it’s available on the second floor at the SNELL Library.  Robert Johnson is the king of the delta blues.  The man single-handedly started Rock N Roll with these songs, and has inspired some of your favorite bands, bands like Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, The White Stripes, Eric Clapton, Cream, and the list goes on and on.

I forget where I first heard Robert Johnson, but I remember when I bought the complete recordings, mainly because I was never the same.  I mean, THIS IS IT!  This is what music is all about, a man pouring his soul out just in his words and his guitar.  While each song sounds eerily similar to the last, there is a nice variation in the lyrical content, and the moods of the albums are just………….almost creepy.  There’s an amazing vibe that is captured on these recordings and as far as I’m concerned, it’s a must listen for any music fan.

Posted in: Read, Listen, Watch

15
Oct08

The Kite Runner

Posted by: Danny Chen

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Anyone still remember the days of high school summer reading? Back then reading was about as much fun as watching paint dry…twice. But that wasn’t even the worst part. Perhaps what made reading even more painful was that teachers had a knack for finding the most mundane and obscure piece of literature to give us. We had to read things by people we never heard of. And occasionally, if we’re lucky, we’ll get to read novels by people who were famous. But again, the teachers always pick some piece of literature that no one ever heard of, even though it was by a famous author, to give to us. It was in this desolate mindset that I encountered Khaled Hosseini’s Kite Runner.  I didn’t have high hopes for it. After all, it was summer reading. But Hosseini’s novel definitely has a little bit of magic in it. Because by the end I found myself thinking summer reading can be fun. Weird.

Humor aside, I would like to start again. Ahem.

Rape! Betrayal! Murder! All of them are poignant words that seem more suitable for an adult crime fiction drenching in sleazy characters and vicious crooks than anything else. But instead of dealing with gangsters and double agents, we are dealing with the life journey of one man, Amir, as he traverses the span of not only time but space as well. It all starts in the wealthy suburb of Wazir Akbar Khan, just outside of Kabul, Afghanistan. Amir was living the life that many of us wish we could. Big house, a few servants, and a leisurely childhood spent reading books and flying kites with his best friend and protector, Hassan. It seemed like paradise.

But all is not well in paradise. Hosseini takes us for an exhilarating ride through emotional highs and devastating lows with his unforgettable cast and intense scenes. In case you are not compelled to read this book yet, I would like to show you a bit of what Kite Runner has to offer. I’ll give you a hint; it’s not just about some rich kid flying kites. A point of interest in the book is Amir’s conflicting feelings for Hassan. Although there was a strong brotherly love between them, Amir felt compelled to patronize him from time to time just because he was a Hazara, a type of second class citizen. Will Amir ever find the right balance between dominance and brotherly love? Only by reading will you find out. But I know there are still skeptics out there. Let’s just say that it’s so good that they made a movie out of it. Plus, you’ll find a little bit of everything in this book. If you want action, there’s plenty of it. If you want drama, again, there is plenty of it. Perhaps the only thing you won’t find is a box of Kleenex when you need it most.

Posted in: Read, Listen, Watch

16
Sep08

Fall Football Preview

Posted by: Emily Sabo

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Tomorrow @ Noon, Snell Library will host former NFL player Mark Bavaro and footbal statistician Aaron Schatz.  The two are discussing their repective books, Rough & Tumble, and Pro Football Prospectus.  Join us in 90 Snell for a spirited kick-off of one of the season’s great pleasures–football (and the Meet the Author Series)!

Posted in: Library News and Events

16
Sep08

Deep Straights: Is there a Solution?

Posted by: damong

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Deep Straights: Is there a Solution?

By Damon Griffin

In Bill Mckibben’s book Deep Economy: the Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future, every hot-button issue of environmental and economic decline is touched on: Global Warming, income division, the food crisis, Healthcare crisis, Corporate Lobbying, Globablization and Over-Spending. The book spends a large amount of time talking about the first issue in particular; McKibben’s advocacy of a more homespun, communal approach to managing the economy and everyday life in the United States is framed as an attempt to fix Global Warming more than any others. McKibben’s theories (about how a culture of selfishness and individualism inadvertently leads to environmental damage is well argued and his admonishing views of how the common population simply has the wrong mentality could turn in to condesenscion, but instead provides grounds for optimism. But what is truly an area for debate and controversy in the book is the way it touches on general politics.

The books rhetoric, never explicit, brings to the forefront of one’s mind two words: one is Capitalism, and the other is that always-feared word ‘Socialism.’

Uh-oh. Is McKibben really advocating a Socialist society? He does write of a trip to Cuba, where he advocates their farming system and production of food over the U.S system. One poster on Amazon.com wrote that McKibben is advocating ‘Outright Communism.’ He is not trying to do any such thing, although it could be concluded that his view of the way American society should be is more of a Social Democracy that what we have now: a Capitalist Democracy. McKibben writes that his ideas are not ‘Liberal or Conservative,’ though even he realizes that his idea of a communal, less individualistic society relates to Liberal, Social-Democratic politics, in opposition to the every-individual-for-himself economy we have today, which leans closer to a Conservative, Libertarian model. A blog post does not have much room for an in-depth Political Science discussion, but there certainly is a major discussion Deep Economy can provoke: the upsides of a communal economy and society as opposed to a global, Capitalist economy, and its’ downsides as well. This same discussion could provoke a shallow, misunderstood controversy as well; ‘Socialism’ versus ‘Capitalism,’ ‘Radicalism’ versus ‘The Establishment.’

Posted in: Information and Society, Read, Listen, Watch

12
Sep08

Kundera’s ‘The Hitchhiking Game’

Posted by: damong

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Kundera’s ‘The Hitchhiking Game’

By Damon Griffin

Most people know of the book, or at least the film, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, which is Czech author Milan Kundera’s best known work in the western world. This was indeed the first book of his I read, and with great enthusiasm. But this summer I read several more of his writings, which included a short story called ‘The Hitchhiking Game.’ It is this story that I want to focus on for the remainder of this post. Because if you don’t have time to read a novel, or just don’t want to, you can at least read ‘The Hitchhiking Game,’ and your’ exposure to Kundera will be sufficient.

The story was originally written in the late 60′s, during a time of immense political turmoil and artistic hope in Czechoslovakia. The ‘Prague Spring’ had been crushed by Russian forces in 1967, but there was still much revolutionary artistic activity happening in literature. I mention this only to point out that ‘The Hitchhiking Game’ was essentially a part of a long rebellion at the time, even though nowadays, it does not read that way. It is just a very weird, clever (maybe too clever) love story to us now. A boy and his girlfriend (referred to throughout as only ‘the boy’ and ‘the girl’) stop for gas during a drive on their vacation; while waiting, the girl goes for a walk down the road and a few minutes later is picked up by her boyfriend; they proceed to play an inside-joke type of game, in which they do not know each other, and the girl is a submissive plaything and the boy is a tough misogynist; the game starts out as mere pretend, but gradually turns genuinely hostile. Yet in a sense, there are several rebellions in this story; the two lovers are rebelling against social norms by the very nature of their game, rebelling against each other by seeing how one-dimensional, shallow and eventually violent they can act towards one another. So in a sense the story is a series of rebellions, though also a character study in the truest sense of the word; the intensely detached tone and constant shift-of focus between the two characters somehow elicits the reader’s sympathy for them.

The story can be found in the collection Laughable Loves, alongside a few other memorable Kundera stories.

Posted in: Read, Listen, Watch