2014 Review

This year, I started a number of self-improvement projects. With major events like grad school, finding a job, and getting married out of the way, I found that I once again had time to my various hobbies. I started listening to more music; I began actually recording my own music. I started studying Chinese again, and learned new techniques for playing guitar. I began to pay attention to my diet, and joined a gym. Perhaps more than anything, I caught up on TV shows and finished several video games.

It’s been a pretty good year: not too exciting, but not very boring either. Going into next year, I would like spend a little bit less time in front of the TV, and more time on music and language. I would also like to revive this blog.

Somewhere, the purpose of the Tingle Review was lost. Initially, I saw the Review as a purveyor of how I experience culture.  As time went on, however, it diminished to this sparse wasteland of lists. I’m hoping to change that in 2015.

Here are a few books, games, and albums that gave me inspiration that I’ll carry into whatever I do next year:

Book – The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell

I’ve read a few of Mitchell’s books in the past. This one wasn’t my favorite, but I still really enjoyed the way this book seamlessly wove several different points of view and unique plots around the common thread provided by the main character. Maybe this has been done before and I have simply never read another book like it. Regardless, I found Mitchell’s style to be refreshing, and clever. Increasingly complex worlds and characters are built in a way that feels completely organic.

Book – Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami

Unfortunately, I haven’t read many of Murakami’s books. This one was great, though. This book perfectly captures the feeling of being isolated by friends, as well as being vindicated by the discovery of new friends.  The loneliness Tazaki experiences is inherent in human relationships, even successful ones.

Music – Casualties of Cool by Casualties of Cool

Devin Townsend really outdid himself with this collaboration. Having delved more into acoustic music and ambient music lately, this album came out of the woodwork and knocked me flat with its genre defying style. I know for sure that Townsend’s empty, ambient folk is going to be a huge influence on any music I make on my own.

Game – Mario Kart 8

If for nothing else, for at least reminding me that games can be simple games and still just as fun as the big-budget interactive movies you see on the other next gen consoles.

Why you don’t need to read Patrick Rothfuss- The Name of the Wind

A little while ago, I finally finished Patrick Rothuss’ The Name of the Wind, after giving it a second chance. My second attempt, though much more enjoyable than my first (I actually finished with it, instead of just getting 10 percent through), still urged me to immediately post the following blurb on Amazon from my Kindle:

Narrated in the first person by Kvothe (pronounced quothe), The Name of the Wind is a smug, self-congratulatory account of how a self-righteous brat manages to get his way again and again thanks to luck and Rothfuss’s half-convincing displays of his main character’s cleverness. Mostly good prose and background story earns this novel two stars, but Rothfuss’s setting would be much better not see through the lens of Kvothe’s narration, which is like listening to a compulsive liar try and make up for obvious self-esteem issues.

In all honesty, though, it’s a wonder that the novel isn’t worse than it is; it breaks all the unwritten rules of writing a good story. The story, at first, is told in the third-person present, but soon the action devolves into long stretches of past-tense narration, in the form of protagonist Kvothe telling his story to a chronicler named… Chronicler. Kvothe is arrogant and self-absorbed, and neither he nor any of the other characters display any relevant level of personal growth or development, which is a real shame considering the various trials they go through together.

The Name of the Wind is often described as a novel for Harry Potter fans wanting more. While I’m not huge HP fan, I couldn’t help but find some irony in the fact that this novel made me want to return to Hogwarts. The best parts are, without a doubt, when Kvothe is living at the magic University, getting along with his various peers. But even Rowling approaches her own characters with more of a critical eye. Harry becomes a whiny jerk by his teens, but Rowling, unlike Rothfuss, never gives you the impression that Harry’s commendable for being so. Kvothe, in contrast, loves victimizing himself, even when the trouble he gets himself in is well-deserved and long overdue. And Rothfuss expects you to feel good about it, when Kvothe’s cleverness grants him another free pass.

Lots of people like The Name of the Wind.  Lots of people also like the idea that they’re always right, and the other guys is always wrong, and any bad things that happen are obviously someone else’s fault.

101 Kinds of Irony

101 Kinds of Irony by Kevin Griffith is a fun little book. And I’m not just saying it because two of my friends, including my fiance, were involved in the production of it. Overall, I found the ironic examples discovered amid its 101 electronic pages to be humorous, lighthearted, and, most importantly, brief, making the book a perfect “snack” between meals of heavier reading.

101 Kinds of Irony starts simple, building on the most basic foundational blocks of irony, like “tragic” and “dramatic”, before venturing off into heavier territory, such as “Figurative Irony”, and even “Ye Olde Medieval Irony”. Most of the examples presented by Griffith are funny, and many of them remind me of the type of James Joyce-esque puns that are amusing to fellow writers, like “Supreme Court Irony”, an entry which is written out as if it were a Supreme Court opinion (as if you needed me to tell you that).

Entries are concise, and well written. Some draw more giggles than others, but all are thought-out and well crafted. Overall, reading 101 Kinds of Irony is kind of like sitting around a University cafeteria table with a group of other English majors, and having a blast because you’re all so pleased that you get each other’s jokes. And I don’t mean that in any pretentious way, but wouldn’t that be ironic if I did?

For $2.99, you can’t really go wrong with this book, which is bound to please writers and lovers of literature alike. And, you can get it here.