Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The World In Six Songs: Dr. Daniel J. Levitin

I think that Dr. Levitin out performed his first national bestselling effort with his 2008 publishing. I read and really enjoyed This is your Brain on Music (2006), which was reviewed on this blog in August of this year, but I felt that The World in Six Songs, was more refined, while somehow also being more universal. Both books deal with the extraordinary human brain and how it processes and organizes both musical and non-musical information, but Levitin's second non-fiction masterpiece deals with much more of the history and evolution of the primal and conscious sections of the brain. There is scientific, historical, and anthropological perspectives on early humans and the good doctor's expertise and research lead him into several provocative theories. His take on the roll of music in the evolution of early homo-erectus in regard to hunting, communicating, group numbers, mating rituals, and more, eventually help explain why we love music the way we do today from a strictly scientific standpoint. The facts behind brain chemistry and activity while listening to, performing, and dancing to music are explained in new contexts and brought to life in both hypothetical and literal scenarios from the past and present. Dr. Levitin also references interviews and musings posed by professional musicians interested in musical perception and human cognition including Sting and Joni Mitchell who are both quoted in the text along with scientists and even specific experiments. The book is extremely thorough and scholastically sound, but in a language made for the masses. It can easily be enjoyed by the average music listener or lover and any completely non-scientific person. "Six Songs," is more like a show on Discovery then a PhD Dissertation. If you're not interested after reading this, don't believe me, or want a second opinion, try the official website of the book for a much more precise introduction...http://www.sixsongs.net....thanks......

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

A Confederacy of Dunces: John Kennedy Toole

This read was recommended by my ivy-league educated cousin, Ryan, who currently works as a Cellar Master for Copain Custom Crush (I know, sounds terrible, right?) in Sebastopol, California where he and his lovely wife Adrine are raising a handsome little man, Aren. It is pretty much the first written suggestion that has been sent to the Midge so "I jump in it." The book is set in New Orleans in the 60's and according to my roommate from said town it is a must read for locals. Therefore, she hated it. I, on the other hand, loved it. I think my favorite character would have to be Jones, the dark glasses wearing, smoke ring blowing, black man trying to become gainfully employed so as not to be harassed for being a vagrant. Jones is hilarious and his role is important, but he is still only a minor character. The central figure in this masterpiece is Ignatius J. Reilly, a complex, educated, artistic, idiotic, fat bastard of a man who at the age of thirty still lives with his mother and gallivants around New Orleans in a green hunting cap getting into ridiculous situations with French Quarter folk as he also attempts to become employed. Meanwhile, all the characters he meets slowly develop and some appear and reappear mixing and matching into new scenarios, which work on poor Ignatius' over stimulated mind until conspiracy theories begin to flash and flutter all throughout his days of thinking, eating, watching movies, and complaining. I really don't know how much more can be said of this one. It's quite a journey to take and Mr. Toole received many accolades posthumously for his efforts. You see, the book wasn't even released until after the author's death when his mother shopped it around and eventually got writer Walker Percy- who penned a beautiful forward for the story- to help her obtain a publisher. Other than that it really can only be figured out by reading it friends.....enjoy.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Michael Connelly Reading and Signing for: The Reversal

I've probably read 12 of Michael Connelly's books including the ones reviewed on this blog; The Lincoln Lawyer, The Overlook, Blood Work, etc., and others like 9 Dragons, Echo Park, The Narrows...and Borders sends me emails every single night around midnight with coupons and updates about author signings in my area...but...These are usually people I've never heard of and occur in Santa Monica. Then suddenly I get one for a book signing at the Borders in Torrance right near my lovely girlfriend's condo for Mr. Connelly's new book The Reversal. So, we say "Hey, there's something we've never done before.....let's go meet an author and buy a copy of his book to sign." It turned out to be a very quick and easy and I left happy. Connelly was very laid back and cool and had some quick quips for strange questions from the die-hards in attendance. For an example one cat blamed Connelly for ruining his perception of Detective Harry Bosch by finally adding his own picture to the back of the fifth or sixth novel. I have a picture of Bosch in my mind and never really thought of Michael Connelly as being Bosch, but the author just joked that Bosch was much older than he and that since he received a SAG card for being on a celebrity poker show he would be glad to be cast as Bosch in the future. The author also hung back late and signed as many books as these people had (some brought duffle bags full of his novels!) As expected I was one of the youngest fans there and the ones in my range were an extremely small percentage (Like 2%). Still, the older folks were very nice and chatty and the questions were good and he even spoke about the upcoming movie done on The Lincoln Lawyer starring Matthew McConaughey due out in March. Connelly hung out on the set for some of the more important scenes and said he was thrilled with the production and is looking forward to the movie. Meanwhile, the new book has both Mickey Haller of The Lincoln Lawyer and Connelly's most famous character Harry Bosch. I am about fifteen pages in and pretty excited to see what happens with the half brothers and Mickey's ex-wife, Maggie McPherson, all working together to prosecute an expected child rapist and murderer. As Connelly wrote on the book he signed for my brother Tim, "Welcome to the Labyrinth." Happy Reading, The Midge......