Monday, December 29, 2014

Song of the Week: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

To close out this year's Christmas songs, let's hear from my boy Kenny Wayne Shepherd.  This version of Rudolph is from an album called Merry Axemas.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Song of the Week: God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen

Jars of Clay have recorded two versions of this song:  one on their EP Drummer Boy and one on the full album called Christmas Songs.  I always preferred the Drummer Boy version because it shows off their guitar work more.

Here is that version:

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Sons of Anarchy - Finale

I meant to use this song as the song of the week when Sons of Anarchy came back for its final season, but I forgot, so you get a bonus song this week.  Tonight is the last episode of Sons of Anarchy ever.  It's kind of hard to believe that of the original cast members, only three remain.  Who knows how many will be left standing when the curtain comes down for the final time.

I haven't written much about this show recently, probably because my interest level has fluctuated.  Here's a rundown of what I think:

Season 1 & 2 = Awesome
Season 3 = started and ended awesome, the middle was a lot of moving people into places
Season 4 = great, crummy ending
Season 5 = good, but whenever the ending of 4 came up, it pulled me out of the story
Season 6 & 7 = felt a little bloated and after season 5, I could see only the flaws in the show.

I thought this is a good song and an appropriate one for its end.  It was played at the end of an episode where one of my favorite characters (the heart of the show) met his end.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Song of the Week: Oh Come, Oh Come Emmanuel

OK, so Michael is right that this is Advent, not Christmas.  So here's an Advent tune before we get back to more Christmas ones.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Atlas Shrugged by, Ayn Rand

It is very difficult to separate the book as a polemic from the book as a work of art (since being a polemic is its primary purpose), but even those so inclined to agree with Rand's philosophy must see that Atlas Shrugged is pretty dreadful solely as a work of art. There are elements of the story that work and more than one intriguing mystery, but the execution as poor. The characters are very flat. Her heroes never do anything wrong, and her villains are nothing but straw men. There is very little urgency in the book; partially due to storytelling choices, partially due to the over-use of passive voice. When two characters meet in the book, we are immediately treated to 200 pages of their backstory from the time they first met until the present. This can be either trimmed or dropped in when part of the characters' relationship needs to be clarified or emphasized.

There is also a large amount of summary instead of scene, so Rand ends up telling us what her characters think instead of showing us. The one time where she errs in the opposite direction is Galt's 400 page speech near the end of the book.  It was extremely repetitive and derailed the story for a long time.  In fact, after the speech, I dropped my rating of the book to 1-star until the very last chapter.

The story itself is overall depressing. Rand seems to say that it's no use in fighting The Looters; smart people should just let the world collapse and build a new one out of the chaos.

Rand does have something to say about the over-reliance on others to make decisions for us and the need of many people to play it safe instead of striving to make things better. I just don't think she had the talent to do it herself.

And because I can, here is Whittaker Chambers's epic takedown of Atlas Shrugged in National Review.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Song of the Week: Santa Bring My Baby Back To Me

It's December again, so that means a month of Christmas songs.  We'll start this year off with Elvis.