Thursday, December 27, 2007

Eastern Promises

This movie was about a Russian mafia-type organization in London. Viggo Mortenson is some sort of undercover law-enforcement agent trying to bring down the organization. Naomi Watts is a doctor(? she calls herself a midwife) who is interested in the organization because an unidentified girl dies while giving birth and it turns out she was raped by the organizations head dude. It's a drama, with some action but not much (one really good fight scene). It's very moving and sad. And very good!

Grade: A

Tuesday, December 25, 2007


Neil Gaiman is by far one of my favorite authors (perhaps you have noticed that) at the moment. His take on the Marvel Eternals (apparently created quite a while ago) is amazing. This is a story about ordinary people who discover they are extraordinary people, in fact that they are not people but invincible beings created to watch over the Earth by giant robot-like alien/gods called Celestials. This is an exquisitely created tale, which places the Eternals squarely in the Marvel universe. The nod to Greek and Roman mythology and the explanation of gods is brilliant. A definite must for Gaiman fans or for fans of Marvel.

Grade: A+

Nature Girl

Carl Hiaasen's latest novel is just as quirky and fun as his others. He's really good at developing a lot of storylines and then bringing them together in unusual and unlikely ways. I enjoyed this... it's about a sort-of crazy woman who's trying to take revenge on a slimy telemarketer.

Grade: B-

Monday, December 24, 2007

Sandman: Worlds' End

In this volume (the 8th), a random group of travelers find themselves at the Inn and Worlds' End during a reality storm, and tell stories to pass the time. This is an absolutely masterful work, just as exquisite as ever.

Grade: A+

Sunday, December 23, 2007


I just rewatched this movie last night with my parents. I had caught it in the theaters. The second time around I was still stunned by the visuals. The cinematography is excellent, and everything is so beautiful, even the violence. I really like this movie, despite its violence and historical inaccuracies. Those can be forgiven since the movie is all about its message, which is a bit of a political one: freedom isn't free.

Grade: B+

Sandman: Brief Lives

This, the seventh volume of Neil Gaiman's amazing graphic novel Sandman, is an excellent one. It's a self-contained story featuring most prominently Dream and Delirium. Delirium is not a main character in many of the stories so it's pretty cool. Dream and Del are trying to find Destruction, who has left the family. The story is about change, how there are two sides to every coin and thus everyone can change, and how all lives are equally brief (even those of the Endless!). This is an excellent read.

Grade: A+

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Sofie Metropolis

This is a mystery-romance(ish) novel about a Greek girl in NYC who's trying to be a PI. It's quite along the same lines as a Stephanie Plum novel, but the combined efforts of 'Tori Carrington' (really a husband and wife team) cannot match Janet Evanovich at all. So basically a Stephanie Plum knockoff that's not as good. Oh well, at least it was entertaining.

Grade: C

Monday, December 17, 2007


Originally uploaded by marichica88

So, I'm pretty much addicted to Flickr right now. It's a GREAT photosharing site. Easy to use, and the pro accounts which let you do everything are not that expensive (I am considering purchasing one myself). If you use anything, USE THIS!!!

Grade: A+

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Andrew Bird & The Mysterious Production of Eggs

Andrew Bird is probably the best male vocalist I've heard in a while. I've been really caught up on female vocalists but here is a man who has a voice that is just as exquisite as other artists I've been loving like Feist and Leona Naess. This is an excellent album. Bird's lyrics are so great, it is a beautiful listening experience. The style is somewhere between Iron & Wine and The Honorary Title. It's as heartfelt as Damien Rice or Bright Eyes, but with a smoother and more compelling voice. I loved pretty much the entire album, I guess if I have to pick three I'd say "A Nervous Tic Motion of the Head to the Left," "The Naming of Things," and "Masterfade."

Grade: A(+)

Saturday, December 15, 2007


Damien Rice's first album is absolutely exquisite. It has soaring strings, heart-wrenching acoustic melodies, and beautiful lyrics. This is an indie album everyone should hear. It's all great (the only song I didn't particularly care for was "Cheers Darlin'"). My favorites were "Delicate", "Volcano", "Older Chests", and "Amie".

Grade: A+

The Geminids

And I have gone on to events now! Basically by reading my reviews you should be able to piece together to some extent what I've been up to. Anyway, this was supposed to be the best meteor shower of 2007. The internets told me it would be best on the 14th at about 2 am, so that's when Jeff and I trucked ourselves out to Barksdale Field with a towel and heavy coats and some popcorn. It was in the mid-30s and windy, and basically got really cold pretty quickly. We stayed out for about 30 minutes and saw about 9 or 10 meteors, which is a really good rate for a meteor shower! It was far more successful than our 2 attempts at watching showers last year. The meteors were bright and some were big and slow. Also Mars has been out and it's still really bright and cool. I am glad to have taken astronomy and know lots of stars and constellations. And also why we have meteor showers!

Grade: B

Central Reservation

This album by Beth Orton was rather disappointing for me. While it had its moments (notably "Feel To Believe" and "Stolen Car"), for the most part it was boring. Beth Orton has a lovely voice and seems to have the talent to make great music, this was not a particularly good effort.

Grade: C

I Tried To Rock You But You Only Roll

Leona Naess has a beautiful voice, and this is a beautiful album. Her melodious tones can urge you to dance or rock you to sweet dreams. This is an exquisite collection of art, with each song being just as worthy of listening as the last. This is another female singer-songwriter I can get into.

Grade: A

In Defense of the Genre

Say Anything's newest album, after ...Is A Real Boy, is fairly good. There are still the same sarcastic lyrics and singing style, while the musical style varies a bit. Overall, it was not as good as ...Is a Real Boy. It was another 2 disc set. "An Insult to the Dead" is pretty good; so is "The Church Channel", "Spay Me", "About Falling", and "Spores".

Grade: C+

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Let It Die

Feist's second album (the one before The Reminder) is quite good. While it does not hold the superb quality of The Reminder, it still retains her soulful voice and lyrics. It is melodic and beautiful and has some French songs. "Mushaboom" is great, so is "Let It Die", "Inside and Out", and "Secret Heart". I liked it a lot.

Grade: A-

Snow Crash

This sci fi novel by Neal Stephenson may be 15 years old, but it's still just as exciting today. Unlike many sci-fi novels which are very obviously old by this point, this one could have been written right now. It's still a very plausible future. It is really interesting, quite intelligent, and a very absorbing read. The world is so complex and revealed through the plot. The book is exciting, quirky, and enthralling. It's about hackers but not just that... A must read!

Grade: A+

Our Love To Admire

I've always liked a few Interpol songs, but I have never loved a full album of theirs. This is no exception. There are a few great tracks: "Heinrich Maneuver" and "Rest My Chemistry" being the most notable ones. The others are hit or miss. This is a pretty good album but really not that great.

Grade: C+

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

All Rise

Inara George has a beautiful voice and beautiful songwriting abilities. She is quite reminiscent of Feist (though her style is unique and not exactly like anybody else). "Genius", "Fools In Love", and "Turn On/Off" are excellent tracks. I love female singer-songwriters right now, and this album is an excellent one!

Grade: A


I ate at Nawab on Monday for lunch with my parents. I had only eaten there once before. This time we all got the buffet. It was really good (both times). Their chicken dishes are excellent and they have good veggies. I just stick to the mild so I can't say anything about spiciness (well, the mild is not too hot at all). Indian food is delicious. Oh yeah this is located in the Big Lots shopping center across from where Miyako and Chez Trinh are. You can totally walk there from campus, and I don't think the buffet is too pricey.

Grade: A

The Cheese Shop

The Cheese Shop is a common favorite of my family, and of W&M students as it is convenient (in CW, market square), and pretty cheap (around $4 for a sandwich). Today I discovered that there's a 10% student discount on Wednesdays for sandwiches! I love my usual cheese sandwich - cheddar and havarti on French with house dressing. You have to try the house dressing. Also Jeff and I love trying the cheese of the day - it's awesome. The shop overall is really cool, it has all kinds of goodies. Definitely somewhere to go, walk there and get some exercise!

Grade: A


I decided restaurants would be good to review too! Miyako is a Japanese restaurant in the Williamsburg shopping center. It's near campus (15 minute walk or so). I have eaten here several times and love it. Tuesdays is dollar sushi night (though that's not exactly what it costs), anyway, the sushi's cheap on Tuesdays. And it's delicious! Yesterday we went for Nathan's birthday celebration. I got Philadelphia salmon rolls and a house salad, Jeff got tuna rolls and miso soup. We also tried some squid. Their house salads are amazing; the dressing is a sesame vinegraitte sort of, it's awesome. The Philadelphia salmon rolls were awesome, I didn't really like the squid though. But that's probably just personal taste. The tuna was good too. A great deal there is any of the dinner boxes, they come with lots of food. You get an entree dish, some tempura veggies and shrimp, rice of course, edamame, miso soup, and a salad. I hear the miso's pretty good, I don't like soup but... it has tofu in it which is interesting. Everything I've gotten there is great. The Hwe Du Bop is highly recommended if you like sashimi. Apparently that's a Korean dish. The restaurant itself is nicely decorated and very receptive to students.

Grade: A

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Live It Out; Grow Up and Blow Away

Decided to do both of these Metric albums in the same post - mostly because I listened to them in a row and so can't fully distinguish between the two. Apparently, Grow Up and Blow Away was the first album that Metric recorded (in 2001) but due to label issues it was just released this year. I love the song "Raw Sugar", and "Soft Rock Star" is pretty great. Overall, it's good. Live It Out was released in 2005 and overall I liked it better than Grow Up and Blow Away. It is quite good, notable songs include "Empty", "Monster Hospital", and "The Police and The Private". All in all I really like Metric. They are good female-vocalist indie rock.

-Live It Out: A-
-Grow Up and Blow Away: B

Make Some Time For Wasting

I first heard about Katie Todd Band from some internet source - probably Hype Machine, but I'm not entirely sure. Anyway, this is a breathtaking album full of beautiful songwriting, beautiful music, and a beautiful voice. "This Time" is still my favorite, with excellent piano. I highly recommend this, it is soft but refreshing.

Grade: A


I haven't listened to The Starting Line in quite some time. I have Say It Like You Mean It and saw them in concert, but haven't heard much from Based on a True Story. Anyway, Direction is pretty good. It has some more rock-y elements which is interesting, though maybe not the best thing for this band. Anyway, I like "Hurry", "Island", and "Way With Words." Mostly, this is a poppy album and kind of fun.

Grade: B

Scream and Light Up the Sky

The second album by The Honorary Title is quite excellent! I really love the song "Untouched and Intact", which I believe is a single. It is at least as good as their first full-length, though I can't decide which I like better.

Grade: A

Also, I love the song "Accident Prone," but I don't think it's actually on the album - I just found it on Ruckus and don't know where it's from!

Grading System

A handy guide to my reviewing standards.

A+ = superb, outstanding, excellent, I really loved it.
A = I loved it!
A- = Awesome! Loved it but it could have been a bit better.
B+ = Really, really liked it. Can't quite say I loved it.
B = Really liked it!
B- = Liked it a lot, but not excellent.
C+ = I liked it quite well, but wouldn't say I 'really liked it'.
C = I liked it.
C- = It was okay.
D+ = It was a little less than okay.
D = I didn't like it.
D- = It was pretty bad.
F = Hated it.

So hopefully I will go by that!

The Needles The Space

The second full-length album by Straylight Run is better than their first. It is reminiscent of their EP, Prepare To Be Wrong, but has evolved a bit since then. The single, "Soon We'll Be Living In the Future", is a good place to start. It will give you a feel for the full album, though I'm not saying it all sounds the same. I really like "Take It to Manhattan" and "Still Alone". This is quite good.

Grade: B+

Under the Blacklight

Rilo Kiley's summer release is really fantastic. The musical style varies from song to song, and the lyrics are their usual clever sexual references. "15" is a jazzy tune and very sexual. "The Angels Hung Around" gets quite twangy, while "Give A Little Love" is a slow R&B piano-filled jam. "Smoke Detector" is sixties-esque rock, and "Silver Lining" has a cool vintage feel (I dunno how else to describe it - the music video helps too). "Close Call" is pop with a catchy drumline. "The Moneymaker" is a smooth but dirty-sounding song with some sweet guitar. "Breakin' Up" has some electronic sounds and is otherwise reminiscent of something maybe Aretha Franklin would have done, or maybe that song "I'm Coming Out". "Under the Blacklight" is kind of pop-country-ish, but has some cool keyboard effects. "Dreamworld" is in fact quite dreamy and has bongos! "Dejalo" is really funky. My favorites are "15", "Breakin' Up", "Give a Little Love", and "Close Call". Altogether, this is an outstanding album!

Grade: A(+)

Thanks to Ruckus, I can now download loads of music really easily! So there will probably be much more music reviewing than previously.

Mean Girls

Yes, I've seen this before (several times) but since I watched it last night I thought I would review it. It's quite funny, though as Jeff pointed out it gets a little unfunny in the middle. The part where the main character gets way obsessed with being a Plastic is not my favorite. But, overall, it's quite funny - especially Tina Fey and Tim Meadows. Also the health class... "Now, chlamydia - K, L..."

Grade: B

Saturday, December 8, 2007

The Golden Compass (movie)

This is probably the best book-to-film adaptation I've seen in a while. My friends who hadn't read the book said it was confusing, though. Which I guess I can understand: it seemed they rushed it by cutting out details while still including most of the plot points of the book. There were a few key changes, one of which was just to make it less violent, which I suppose I'm okay with, though, I hope they don't censor anything in the ones to come (if those are made). I know the religious overtones are pretty controversial (it was banned in Canada!) but if they change them that would destroy the basic premise. Anyway, my biggest issue was with the ending. I wish they had kept the original one, though I guess since they didn't know if they were making another, this one was better for that. Altogether, I was fairly pleased. The attention to details from the book was often superb, and that's always cool.

Grade: A-

Friday, December 7, 2007

Harvest Moon: Save the Homeland

This is for PS2. Jeff and I just completed a year with the fishing storyline. Now, I was a big fan of Harvest Moon 64, played it obsessively and such. But this one not only limits your playing time but also your options. You just play for one year and try to get an ending (you can carry your stuff over to a new year but you have to meet everyone again and that's kind of annoying...). You can't get married, there's no chopping wood, the map is smaller... basically, it's not as good. Better graphics, sure, and some improvements like you can walk through your crops! Wow. I would like to play some of the non-themed newer ones for PS2 or whatever, that may just be improvements over the older ones. This one gets kind of boring near the end, whereas in the 64 version there was always something new to strive for! (Or, at least, after playing for 3 years game time there still was!). So anyway, still pretty addictive, but leaves something to be desired.

Grade: B-

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Mary Ann Meets The Gravediggers And Other Short Stories

This is a Regina Spektor compilation album (it was created for release in the UK). I LOVE Regina Spektor, so of course I like this. It has some really fantastic songs on it. I hadn't heard Songs before I heard this so I thought some of them were new, but it looks as though I was mistaken. Anyway, "Consequence of Sounds" is fantastic. I also really liked "Prisoners". "Us" is one of my favorites by her, and I also love "Oedipus". And of course "Chemo Limo" is great. I guess what I'm trying to say is this is a GREAT little compilation!!!

Grade: A

News on the concert front: this Saturday's Regina Spektor concert was postponed. Again. For the third time. Regina, I hope you get better soon! I am going to have to find a new concert going partner if it gets rescheduled too late, because Jeff will be leaving for Japan on January 5th. How sad!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Tin Man (miniseries)

This came on SciFi the past three nights. It was a 'new cinematic retelling' of the Wizard of Oz story. While only nodding briefly to the original here and there, I thought it was imaginative and cool. It was silly and slightly cheesy, as any good SciFi original production should be. I like Zooey Deschanel, also. I would recommend watching it, but don't expect just a new version of the old one.

Grade: B

Portal (flash)

Holy god, that's addictive. Fun puzzly madness!

Grade: B

Heroes, 'Chapter Two'

The finale of "Chapter Two" of Heroes was last night at 9 on NBC. (I should warn you, there's some spoilers).
I will admit, when I first heard about Heroes I was pretty uninterested. But then Jeff watched it online and highly recommended it. So, this summer, thanks to the sadly no-longer-extant TV Links, I obsessively devoured the first season. I LOVED IT, and was seriously looking forward to the new season. However, it has been kind of a disappointment. At first, I was still really excited about it, despite the slow start. The plot really dragged along, and the end-of-the-world scheme wasn't introduced until halfway in. This resulted in a pretty unexciting season. A lot of the plot points seemed really improbable (for the show, I mean, it's kind of improbable altogether in general but I mean people doing really stupid things). So that bothered me a little, and the finale was kind of anticlimactic and a lot of issues failed to be resolved. Of course, this could have been due to the writers' strike, and may be resolved in the 3rd chapter, which I will probably watch even if it sucks. The second season had been publicized as focusing on entirely new characters - and I think this would have been better than drying to milk more out of the old ones. The new characters that were introduced were barely included in the plot. Also, I am not excited at all about the super-recurring villain thing (i.e., they should have left Sylar dead, that whole subplot was boring and not well integrated). Besides, why would Peter leave the Irish chick in a nonexisting future! They don't even mention her at the end!!! Agh. Anyway. So, yeah, disappointing.

Grade: B-

The Book of Jhereg

This is actually a collection of three books by Stephen Brust, all of which are in the Vlad Taltos series. These are the first three. Jeff had been trying to get me to read this for quite a while, and I had been somewhat hesitant, because a lot of fantasy is pretty bad, I've gotta say. However, he persisted to the point of bringing the books from home so I could look at them, and I was swayed by his insistence that these were different fantasy novels. So, I dove into Jhereg, the first book. I was pretty much immediately hooked. The real draw is that the world is really well imagined, and it's not written in the typical fantasy style. Brust is not trying to say 'look at this awesome world I've created, at the expense of plot and character development.' In fact, these are very character-driven, contemporary stories that are simply located in a very fascinating world, which is only revealed little by little as things become important to the story. These three novels (Jhereg, Yendi, and Teckla) are about the assassin Vlad Taltos. They each have quite a different tone to them. I was initially interested in only reading one at a time and reading other things between, but I was so into it that I read the whole collection in sequence - granted, each book is only 17 chapters. I really want to get into the next few books but am giving it a rest at a moment, and checking out Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson.

Grade: A

new direction

As the new description indicates, I'm taking this blog to new heights in a perhaps futile effort to save it. Basically I now intend to review anything on here. I decided not to change the title because anything that's speaking out, or eradicating boredom, is in the spirit of conquering silence. I realize that no one really reads this, but I don't really care.