Jacob, Prophet and Poet

Reading from Jacob in the Book of Mormon tonight, we were struck by this verse, near the end of Jacob’s writings, just before he dies:

And it came to pass that I, Jacob, began to be old; and the record of this people being kept on the other plates of Nephi, wherefore, I conclude this record, declaring that I have written according to the best of my knowledge, by saying that the time passed away with us, and also our lives passed away like as it were unto us a dream, we being a lonesome and a solemn people, wanderers, cast out from Jerusalem, born in tribulation, in a wilderness, and hated of our brethren, which caused wars and contentions; wherefore, we did mourn out our days.

I don’t know why I never noticed this verse before, but tonight it hit us like a brick, my wife and I in particular. Maybe because we’re finally getting close to the age Jacob might have been when he wrote it, or maybe we just know a little more about what Jacob is talking about now, or maybe we’re just getting sappy, but the epic sadness of it just cried out from the page for the first time. My wife started crying while reading and had to stop. Continue reading

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Musical Snobbery

As Mormons, we are musical snobs. There is approved music and unapproved music. The borders of the musical promised land and the musical slums are as hard and fast as any railroad tracks that separate the good part of town from the bad, and that extends to instruments as well. Or at least that has been the case within my memory. You don’t get to play much music other than Hymns in the chapel. And no matter what you play, you better play it on an approved instrument. The list of instruments that you have heard in your chapel is probably as short as the list of instruments I have heard in mine: organ, piano, violin or viola, cello. Maybe, if you’re lucky, you’ve heard an occasional flute or bass viol, but not much else. Is there a good reason for this? Continue reading

The Damnwells – No One Listens to the Band Anymore

Longtime readers will recognize this band as one of my personal crusades for many years. Bottom line: I love them. I wrote about them previously here and here. Continue reading

Justified – Cottonmouth

This episode has nothing to do with Winona, Natalie Zea’s character (above), but so what?

This is the episode where we find out about the little project that Boyd’s coworker, Kyle, and his pals want his help with. It also shows things heating up between Raylan and Mags’ family, the Bennett clan. We’re still not sure what the history is there, but Raylan’s boss, Art, calls it a grudge, and is more than a little suspicious of Raylan’s involvement. The state police want Raylan’s help on a “task force” related to the Harlan area, and Art calls Raylan “the hillbilly whisperer.” Maybe that’s the title of the show they were considering before they thought of Justified. Continue reading

2011 Oscars

As usual, we watched the Oscars at my house last night and did the traditional contest where we fill out our ballots and try to predict the results. I won with a score of 17 correct out of 24 awards. Did anyone out there beat me?

I thought it was a pretty good show, with Franco and Hathaway (mostly Hathaway, who looked amazing all night in each one of her many dresses) doing a creditable job of hosting. One of my favorite parts was the auto-tuned musical version of some of the movies:

The biggest surprise was that David Fincher didn’t win the award for best director. The Social Network deserved at least as much recognition for directing as it did for its script (Aaron Sorkin won the award for best adapted screenplay). I was glad to see Inception get some recognition, sweeping both sound editing and mixing as well as visual effects. I also thought the award to The Social network for best score was well-deserved.

Discuss these issues and any other Oscar-related stuff here.

Towers of Midnight – Book 13 of The Wheel of Time

The latest book in the Robert Jordan series The Wheel of Time has been out for a few months and I finally finished it, which at 800+ pages is somewhat of an accomplishment . We talked about book 12 here.

This book is the next to last book in the series and the word from Brandon Sanderson, the LDS author and BYU creative writing instructor hired to finish the series after Jordan’s death, is that the 14th and last book in the series, A Memory of Light, will be out around March of 2012.

Which means that this current book is essentially the middle book in a trilogy that Sanderson has been writing as the conclusion to this overgrown series. Cue alarm bells.

The good news is that, as he did in the last book, Sanderson performs a yeoman effort at searching out and tying down the plethora of flailing strands of character and narrative that Jordan left him with.

The bad news is that Sanderson can’t completely escape from the trap that writing the middle book of a trilogy places him in, partly, I assume, because this trilogy is one that is both highly anticipated and fraught with enormous deadline pressure and fan expectations.

This means that the book is concerned primarily with moving all of the chess pieces to the required locations so that the scene is set for the last battle and other scenes that are to take place in the final volume. Continue reading

2010 Albums and Songs of the Year

This was a bit of a strange year in music, in my opinion. It saw the continued fracturing of rock and pop into even more sub-genres, which has been going on for quite a while, but there was an interesting rise of new folk music into the mainstream. This was best exemplified this year by the success of bands like Mumford and Sons, Delta Spirit, Broken Records and, to some extent, Arcade Fire. It has been happening for some time, as is evidenced by great albums in previous years by Augustana, Robert Plant and even Kings of Leon with their rootsy southern sound. I don’t know what to think of this trend, but I like it, as you’ll see from looking at my list. Continue reading