Hello Reviews: The Sense of an Ending

end of my sensing

I hate that this has to be my first book review of HelloNeiman 2.0.  Not because it was a bad read (actually, at 176 pages it was extremely engaging and fulfilling), but just because its going to be really complicated to explain any rational thought or perception to you in mere blog review words.

To sum it up, The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes is basically a deep psychological and philosophical exploration into friendship, relationship and suicide.  No spoilers here, it becomes evident pretty early on that the book will deeply analyze the logic to taking one’s life.  The interesting thing is how often during reading this book … you start to understand this logic to death as well.  Do people commit suicide because they are mentally unstable … or because they are perhaps so stable that they can dissect life’s purpose all together.  As Barnes put it, “if you’re too clever you can argue yourself into anything.  You just leave common sense behind.”

The main character and supporting cast are extremely well developed, and helped sell the story perfectly.  However, I really had to read many passages over and over and over again, as I tried to fully identify Barne’s unfolding philosophy.

This is an incredibly deep thought provoking story about a guy, his relationships, his mental fortitude, and a diary.  I highly encourage you to read it, but only if you are willing to stop and think really hard after each chapter.  It’s definitely one I’ll do some more follow-up research about online.  One thing’s for sure though, this is a book that Zach Puchtel’s View would really enjoy.

Top 30 Bon Jovi Songs of All Time

bonjovi2

This weekend I met my family in Cable, WI for a very relaxing cross-country ski weekend at the newly reopened Telemark Lodge. Although spending 3 days at this ski resort from my youth first felt like Craig Robinson’s return to Kodiak Valley, the Hot Tub was alas not a time machine.  The best part of the trip, instead, was taking a virtual trip through time as I listened to all 160 songs in my Bon Jovi playlist on the road.  From this 8 hours of driving music Heaven, I listened to every hit from every album and every decade … like I said, Heaven.

After getting a chance to hear them all, I felt it necessary to compile my list of all-time favorites.  Now, if you know me or this blog, you can understand how difficult it of a task this has been. After 15 years of Bon Jovi obsession, some of the regular hits get passed up for some hidden gem b-side tracks.  Truth be told, there are 160 amazing Bon Jovi songs in my playlist, but I’ll stand by this compilation.  So, without further ado, and for your viewing pleasure … I give you the Hello Neiman! top 30 Bon Jovi songs of all time:

30. I’ll be There for You (New Jersey)
29. All About Loving You (Bounce)
28. The Distance (Bounce)
27. Everyday (Bounce)
26. Destination Anywhere (Jon Bon Jovi)
25. Captain Crash and the Beauty Queen from Mars (Crush)
24. Undivided (Bounce)
23. Living On a Prayer (MTV Unplugged)
22. Complicated (Have a Nice Day)
21. Bad Medicine (New Jersey)
20. One Wild Night (Crush)
19. Bed of Roses (Keep the Faith)
18. Always (Cross Road)
17. Lay Your Hands on Me (New Jersey)
16. When We Were Beautiful (Circle)
15. Have a Nice Day (Have a Nice Day)
14. Blood on Blood (New Jersey)
13. I Love This Town (Lost Highway)
12. We Weren’t Born to Follow (Circle)
11. You Give Love a Bad Name (Slippery When Wet)
10. 99 In The Shade (New Jersey)
9. Someday I’ll Be Saturday Night (Cross Road)
8. (You Want to Make) A Memory (Lost Highway)
7. Raise Your Hands (Slippery When Wet)
6. Lost Highway (Lost Highway)

And for your viewing pleasure, my top 5…

5. Who Says You Can’t Go Home (w/Jennifer Nettles) (Have a Nice Day)

4.  Wanted Dead or Alive (This Left Feels Right)

3.  Runaway (Slow Version) (Crush Tour DVD)

2.  Living on a Prayer (Slippery When Wet)

1.  It’s My Life (Crush)

Music Videos are always better when made in the image of Mouse Trap

This is an AWESOME music video that Ross Tulman sent me today.  The song is just ok.  But honestly, as you watch, you forget about the music and get mesmerized in the MouseTrap style engineering.  A few times I caught what I believe was manual (or triggered) assistance, but to be honest, it moved so fast it was hard to follow everything that happens.  Check out the video, its pretty cool.  And if you are asking yourself, “Hey, isn’t that how the movie PeeWee’s Big Adventure started off?”  You would be right.  That too is amazing, but OK Go does not end in a Cap’n Crunch covered pancake smiley face.

Nothing Says “Happy Valentine’s Day” like Slippery When Wet underwear

i want to make a memory…

Why do I love Bon Jovi?  Well, besides the obvious of course?  Because I get emails from the official Bon Jovi store urging me to “Make a Memory” and purchase my loved ones a Bon Jovi gift for Valentines Day.  Unfortunately, something tells me Dana doesn’t want a pink scarf featuring lyrics from Jon’s best love ballads, or an autographed Women’s Lost Highway Leather Vest, but the idea is still pretty cool.  (p.s.  Hey Dana, now you’re on my blog!)

Though to be honest, if I were a lady, I know I would love to get a Heart and Dagger Pendant necklace made from guitar strings that Jon and Richie actually used on tour.  I mean, what self-respecting JBJ Fan wouldn’t want this!!  I’ll admit I peruse the gift shop at www.bonjovionline.com regularly (heck, i recently got this shirt from his St. Paul concert for $10!).  However, I still think the best gift on that website is the full set of shot glasses featuring the album art.  If Buddy hadn’t destroyed my collection back in 2001, that would have made a nice addition…

Genius colides, introducing Netflix Origami!

A cousin of the traditional origami stork, this graceful swan is both easy and elegant.

Given the fact that I have a daily Origami calendar at work, Carey clued me into this fantastic bit of online extravagance today.  If you are like me, you love your Netflix (hello sidebar!) … but that pesky tear-off sheet just drives you nuts.  “Such a waste of good paper”, you may think.  Or, “what am I supposed to do with this perfectly shaped two-toned piece of paper?”

Well, fret not dear friends, a genius idea has been sent down to us from the heavens above!   Start the desk collection now, your friends will be jealous and you can hold your chest up high.  Check it out at www.netflixorigami.com.

(this will help their stock ticker, right?)

Movie Review: Knowing

For all intensive purposes, Knowing should have been an awful movie.  And to be honest, for many of you, it probably is.  The awful acting career of Nicholas Cage, a storyline about predicting the Apocalypse, a basically unknown director in Alex Proyas and a pitiful tag-line of “what happens when the numbers run out?” definitely is a recipe for disaster.

But, after having it on my Netflix queue for months, actually having the disc at home for weeks, and attempting to find the time to watch it for countless days … I was finally able to watch this movie and see what it is all about.  To be honest, I thought it was pretty bad until the last 20 minutes.  The basic storyline is that an elementary student writes down the dates and death toll of every major disaster on earth for the next 50 years on a piece of paper, then locks it in a time capsule set to be open a few days before her predicted apocalypse.  The rest of the movie is Cage trying to understand how it could be true and how to stop it.  His kid is awkward, there are tons of unanswered themes and sub-plots, and everything seems to happen too easily to be a believable story.

But an hour into the movie, something happens.  The purpose of the story changes direction.  Instead of trying to stop a prediction from happening, the characters try to uncover the purpose of the predictions.  The characters visist the home of the woman who wrote the numbers and uncover what the final numbers point to – the apocolypse of the world.  From here we have an ongoing struggle, toying with scientific vs religious reasons for the end of the world.  Are the “whisperers” aliens with a 6th sense?  Or are they angels carrying out the will or g-d?  When you as the viewer stop carrying about how they know, but rather why they know … it really makes the movie incredible.

The ending to this movie may actually be one of the best done conclusions to a film of this scientific/religious nature.  Without giving it away, let me explain what the last 15 minutes is like.   First of all, the musical score is incredible here.  Intensity at just the right moments, the score brings out an intense emotional attachment to the characters you didn’t really care about previously.  Combine that with incredible visual effects and artistic imagery, the climactic conclusion of the film actually tears at your emotions and gives you shivers down your spine.  Its sad, its happy, its powerful, its emotional, its mysterious, and in the end it truly is … beautiful.  I actually went back to listen to the director’s commentary  (something I never do unless a movie has this effect on me), and it was so satisfying to hear the director explain his desire to give the exact impression to his viewers that I experienced.

Give this movie a chance.  Put away your need for believabilty and embrace a desire for possibility.  It may start out rough, but if you give it the chance, you’ll be glad you did.

New Song?! New Album?! Hello Bon Jovi!!

Not only did I not know Bon Jovi was working on a new album for this year, but had no clue it is almost done and set to release on November 10th!!!  I need to start following a better Bon Jovi twitter account because it wasn’t until today that #backstageJBJ informed me of the news article below:

NEW YORK, Aug. 19 /PRNewswire/ — 2009 has turned into a landmark year like no other for legendary Island Records group Bon Jovi, and now the band is launching their new single, “We Weren’t Born To Follow” an upbeat positive anthem which premiered on the radio Tuesday, August 18th. “We Weren’t Born To Follow” is the first single pick from the band’s new studio album, THE CIRCLEin stores November 10th.

What the hell?!  Where was I??  This song is a great start to another upbeat album produced by the same person who did Have a Nice Day and Lost Highway.  I’ve had a fun “party summer” of music ranging from Flo Rida to Black Eyed Peas to Sean Kingston, but its time to get back to my roots and start the hype for the newest Bon Jovi album to add to my collection.  Play the video above to listen to one of the songs!

Shark Attack!

lost an arm … do do doo do do … lost a leg … do do doo do do…

Its Shark Week on the Discovery channel.  Although I can’t really explain the phenomenal success of this television programming, I have to admit that every once in a while I get pulled in as well.  There probably isn’t another creature on earth that could have a whole week of TV dedicated to it, but there is something about a Shark Attack draws in millions of viewers a year.  The danger?  The teeth?  The fear of being completely vulnerable?  Is that all it comes down to?  Human nature is to be in control, so when we are not, it’s entertaining?

I think the major reason for the success of Shark Week is that shark attacks are the most exciting of any animal’s and the most difficult to defend against.  Honestly, if you’re in the ocean and a shark fin is coming towards you … you are F*ed.  Sure you can try to swim away, but something tells me the shark is faster.  And you can try punching him in the nose or eyes, but his teeth are pretty damn close and one jerk of the head and there goes your fists of fury.  So then what do you do?  Scream?  Rooooooooooight, because if I hear a guy getting attacked by a shark, my gut reaction is to jump in the bloody water as well?  Hell no.

Nonetheless, it’s scary and fun to watch it on TV, even though every story is basically the same:  “I was swimming, I knew it was dangerous but thought I’d be fine, I felt it bump me, I knew it was a shark, then it bit me, I tried to fight, I shouldn’t have survived but somehow I did.  And now I have no leg and hands.” 

Thank you Discovery Channel, for giving me another reason to choose lake over ocean, sailing over surfing, and fly fishing over deep sea.

Counting the days to Counting the Crows

Saturday Nights     

This weekend is going to be a bit crazy people!  Since there won’t be more than an hour of free time between Friday evening and Monday morning, I better use today’s post to tell you about all the mishigas that is planned to occur over the next 5 days.

Friday night Lindsey and I are going to the Twins/White Sox game at the Dome, after which I am hoping to celebrate the victory with some cool beverages of choice.  If the weather is nice, Saturday is boating on Lake Minnetonka, the Basilica Block Party, and Kieran’s bachelor party in St. Paul, Sunday is the summer board meeting and visitors day at Herzl, and Sunday night dinner with the grandparents … (sigh) it hurts just writing it.

However, as I mentioned, this Saturday is the 2009 Basilica Block Party, which I announced months ago is headlined by the Counting Crows.  Lindsey and I have our tickets already (but if anyone else is looking for tix, my friend Amber has 2 for sale, just shoot me an email), and are ecstatic to see the crows in MN again.  The last time they played the BBP was 2003 and I was in DC for the weekend, which forced me to miss my one and only Minnesota Counting Crows concert since really discovering them in 1998.  If the weather is nice, this concert will be tough to beat.  The new album is still on my top 3 for everyday listening, and although I can no longer pick favorites with the Crows … the tracks above (Insignificant) and below (Washington Square), are two of the best from the new album that really represent its name and meaning.  Enjoy and hopefully I’ll see you at the show Saturday Night (and Sunday Morning).  🙂

and Sunday Mornings.

 

Movie Review Terminator – Battle of the Smithsonian

Night at the Museum – Salvation

So after a busy couple of weeks, I decided it was time to see a movie last night.  My list of summer must-sees was starting to pile up and I knew this weekend wouldn’t relieve that growing list at all.  So last night I decided to see Night at the Museum at the theater near my hotel.  I probably would have chosen a different one, but the fact that it was on their IMAX theater definitely intrigued me, and I thought the first one was pretty funny.  As expected, the flick had some great lines, funny anecdotes and characters, but generally was just a feel good family movie.  Amy Adams got headlines for her portrayal of Amelia Earhart, which was good, but I’d have to say Hank Azaria steals the show.  Azaria usually doesn’t get the credit he is due, but he is hilarious in this one.  I think the funniest moment is towards the end when he gets pissy with Ben Stiller about 1) talking, 2) reaching over to his side, and 3) not giving him the tablet.  Pretty funny stuff, overall I’d give it a 8.  My only complaint was that Jonah Hill needed a MUCH bigger part.  He should have been wrapped into the story after his cameo scene … it would have also led the way to a cool spin-off 3rd movie.

Then, because the IMAX cost $15 for a ticket and I felt the need to get my money’s worth, I “snuck” into Terminator Salvation.  The theater was tiny and I sat a little too close, but overall it wasn’t nearly as bad an experience as I expected.  Perhaps next time I should not listen to the world’s worst movie critic in Dan Rothstein and let the professionals input weigh in a bit more heavily.  EW pegged it for a good movie and a win for Hollywood, and although it wasn’t spectacular, it was definitely a good movie.  I love the twist at the end with the T-800 and you have to enjoy Christian Bale’s remake of the first movie’s classic quote.  Sam Worthington was a good supporting actor and the action more or less gave the movie enough credibility to the expectations.  Overall, I’d give it a 7, but it could be worse.