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The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Review by carlmagazine
September 30, 2010, 9:40 am
Filed under: Literature

By Marika Cristofides

You may have seen the book’s glossy, acidic cover on the best-sellers table at Barnes and Noble this summer. You may have seen your culturally-hipper-than-thou grandmother reading the book, as I did. You may have bought the book in a futile attempt to out-hip your grandmother.  You may even have read the book.

Written by recently deceased Swedish political activist, journalist, and avid science-fiction fan Stieg Larsson as part of his “Millenium Trilogy,” The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a page-turning crime-thriller that follows the investigative efforts of two unlikely partners; passionate financial journalist Michael Blomqvist and pint-sized tough girl Lisbeth Salander. The two spend the majority of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo investigating the disappearance of wealthy heiress Harriett Vanger off of an island in a sort of Miss Marple locked room situation. Larsson died in 2004, missing his own rise to second best-selling author in the world in 2008. Published in Sweden in 2005, by March 2010 his trilogy had sold 27 million copies in more than 40 countries.

In The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Blomqvist describes a book saying that it was “…uneven stylistically, and in places the writing was actually rather poor – there had been no time for any fine polishing – but the book was animated by a fury that no reader could help but notice.” Although Larsson’s own book entertains, the writing is nothing special. The first couple of chapters are filled with finance and political jargon, which gives the plot a lumbering start. Blomqvist, who improbably beds many of the book’s women, seems like a male wish-fulfillment fantasy. As my grandmother argued, certain scenes can be disturbingly violent to the point of pulp. And the sheer volume of open-faced sandwiches the two main characters consume while sleuthing is improbable at best.

Fortunately for Larsson, Lisbeth Salander provides the “fury that no reader could help but notice.” Based partly on the Swedish children’s book character Pippi Longstocking, Lisbeth follows a personal code of ethics that leads her on revenge missions that are both cringe-inducing and enjoyable. The capability with which she conducts her affairs – hacking computers and using kickboxing techniques to fend off villains, is supremely satisfying. This tough quality mixed with the vulnerability that she shows in her unorthodox relationships makes her an extremely compelling character. You want to be her friend, but you also think she might kick you in the head. And she completely steals the show from Mikael Blomqvist. So if you don’t like politics, journalism, slow-burning mysteries, or sandwiches you should read the book for Lisbeth Salander – a fresh face in crime-fiction.



Rick Ross’s Teflon Don Inspires Many Bad Puns, Conspicuous Consumption by carlmagazine
September 29, 2010, 8:44 am
Filed under: Music

By Charlie Rosenthal

How did this happen?  Rick Ross, the man who once rhymed “Atlantic” with “Atlantic” and claimed to know someone named Pablo Noriega, just released one of the ten best rap albums of the year.  This is the same Rick Ross who was once a Corrections Officer, the same Rick Ross who was once sued by a drug dealer for defamation.  Somehow, Rozay managed to overcome all this and release an album nearly entirely about how rich he is.  Even more amazingly, it’s good.

Rick Ross and Def Jam bought themselves a championship.  There are no no-names showing up on this album, only certified all-stars.  This album features tracks produced by Clark Kent, Kanye West, and the J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League and guest appearances from Jay-Z, John Legend, TI, Erykah Badu, Kanye West, Trey Songz, Gucci Mane, Drake, and Raekwon, among others.  It seems bizarre to praise an album because of the strength of its guest appearances, but, in general, the better the main rapper is, the better the guest verses are.  Basically, Jada might be willing to phone it in on some track by Memphis Bleek, but he’ll try and raise his game when he’s guesting on something legitimate.  As a result, Jay-Z sounds hungry, TI sounds confident, and Kanye West swaggers on “Live Fast, Die Young”.  Even Gucci’s verse is good.  On Ross’s third album, the pretty good Deeper than Rap, “Maybach Music II” featured T-Pain on the hook.  T-Pain is good and all, but Rozay upgraded to neo-soul goddess Erykah Badu for the third installment in the series.  On one level, that sums up the album: why only have good when you can have the best?

As an album, Teflon Don gets by far more on feeling, atmosphere, and sheer sound than it does on lyricism.  Ross’s massive blunted rasp absolutely crushes bangers like “BMF (Blowin’ Money Fast)” and “MC Hammer” and, nearly equally well, rides over more laid back, chill tracks like “Super High” and the superb “Maybach Music III”.  Ross still isn’t a great rapper, especially when he makes semi-cringe worthy claims like “I don’t smoke no tobaccos/ but I smoke the most rappers”, but he’s well beyond competent and self aware enough to only rarely leave his wheelhouse of braggadocio.  On some level, that’s a very good thing.  The Boss attempting Cudi-style mope rap would turn out atrociously, just like Cudi penning odes to speedboats and women tattooing themselves with his name would bomb.  Ross avoids the staleness that would come with such a lack of thematic variation by keeping the album short and by being a legitimately interesting and fun rapper.  For example, during “MC Hammer”, Ross screams “My top back/ I’m circumcised!”  Even if that line would never show up on an MF Doom or Aesop Rock album, it’s still memorable, which is a pretty fair substitute for being “good” or whatever we want our rap lyrics to be.

I have no idea what this means for rap.  Teflon Don has effectively nothing in common with every other good rap album released over the past couple of years.  It’s the anti-recession rap.  Teflon Don isn’t out to be clever like Tha Carter III was and it isn’t a Blueprint III style victory lap.  It celebrates the cocaine culture that Big Boi rejected.  It features very little of the introspection that Drake made fashionable and it doesn’t bother with the storytelling of Raekwon’s Only Built 4 Cuban Linx II.   It’s like Teflon Don was made in a ‘90s vacuum where Will Smith lied about ever leaving West Philly and decided to start dealing comical amounts of white powder and smoking forests of weed.  Call it Big Ricky Style.



Houses RIP by carlmagazine
September 28, 2010, 5:53 pm
Filed under: Campus, Northfield, Society

Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to mourn the death of two houses that once stood tall and strong on the Carleton College Campus.

REYNOLDS

Reynolds House, Carleton’s Jewish interest house of many years, was brutally knocked down this summer. It’s death did not come as a surprise to friends and family as  a variety of piping malfunctions left it closed for the majority of 2009-2010 school year. Reynolds will be remembered for its multi-faceted personality which ranged from spiritual to fun to absolutely ridiculous.

Campus rabbi, Shosh Dworsky remembers fondly the “certain coziness of that dark dingy living room.” The living room was the site of many a alumni Shabbat.  Rabbi Shosh says that it was “fun for me to see and hear them [alumni] as the memories came rushing back.” There are three classes still at Carleton who will recall Reynolds House memories every time that they see its’ empty plot on Union Street.

Will Taylor (’11) describes himself as a “part time resident” of Reynolds House during the 2008-09 school year, as he was a good friend of two of the house residents, Moshe Emilio Lavi (’11) and Iosif Sorokin (’11). Will often found himself passed out on the Reynolds couch. On Saturday mornings he usually woke up to what he describes as some of his most striking memories of the former Jewish home. Every week Iosif hosted 4th and 5th graders from Northfield for chess lessons, “surrounded by piles of MSR and bottles of wine- sheer destruction.” This moment epitomized the spirit of an interest house- an intersection between community outreach, (or what Jews would call tzedakah) and the happy go lucky wear and tear of collegiate festivities.

Iosif remembers when “…a bird flew in through the fireplace and Moses chased it around with a broom for about an hour until he finally knocked it into a box and then we moved it outside and released it.” Just as that bird was freed almost two years ago, it is time to let go of Reynolds House. It seems that the Jewish Students of Carleton (JSC) were ready for and accepting of change. “Though it certainly took my breath away the first time I drove by the empty lot,” Shosh says that, “I can’t say I shed any tears.”  Or as Moshe Lavi more bluntly put it, “I think it was a nasty and rotten house when it comes to the manner in which it was maintained. I want to say good riddance, but to be honest with you I could not care less.” Reynolds was reaching its end with pest issues and some spatial issues too. Perhaps some day something new will come into the space of Reynolds House, a place where all people and things from Jews, to MSR, to 8-year old chess players are welcome.

Watson House

Another home that was reduced to broken timber this summer was Watson House, once located near Watston Hall on Maple Street. Watson House served many purposes over it’s storied years. It was once WHOA House, a residential house and was also Knight House. Knight House existed for one school year, 2007-2008 and served as a school spirit house and a home to many of the Cheer Boys. Dash Cole (’10), a Knight House resident and part-time house manager, explains that, “residents were required to go to at least two sporting events per term, which was really not that much. The house was also supposed to be an open forum for anyone who wanted to talk about Carleton athletics, from varsity to club to intramural.”  Mary Bushman, a resident the year after Knight House, says, “it became a lot more boring in its post-Cheer Boys days,” though she did appreciate the frequent visits from Toff.

Much like Reynolds, Watson was in poor physical shape during its last couple years of existence. Dash remembers feeling rather nervous about the crumbling edifice, saying,“we had parties in the basement sometimes, and there were three pillars that were structural support for the house. One of them could be moved pretty easily, and wasn’t even still connected to the ceiling. The other two just looked really shaky. I wouldn’t have been surprised if it collapsed while we were living there.” Because of this, Dash believes it was a good thing that Watson House was knocked down, though he will always remember his times there fondly.



‘09: Redux! A 2011 Awards Season Preview by carlmagazine
September 28, 2010, 9:11 am
Filed under: PDF Posts

By Josiah Burns

I know we still have a few months till the domestic awards season, but it’s time to hedge your bets. The word is in from Cannes, Toronto, Telluride, and Venice. With Fincher, Boyle, Aronofsky, and a pair of pint-sized vampires vying for end-of-year honors, it’s a flashback to the year of the Slumdog Millionaire. Call me crazy, but my money’s on The Social Network, Fincher’s most recent effort, the already (in)famous Zuckerberg biopic.

127 Hours (Danny Boyle): A man suffers from lightheadedness and is rushed to the hospital. Another has a panic attack in the lobby. Step aside, The Exorcist and Blair Witch. These were some of the headlines after 127 Hours premiered at Telluride. In telling the true story of Aron Ralston (James Franco), Boyle takes the Aristotelian unities to an extreme, intensely documenting the escape of a stranded climber (fortunately, he condenses the narrative into ninety minutes).

Black Swan (Darren Aronofsky): Judging by the trailer, Natalie Portman’s ballerina protagonist goes on an hour-and-a-half schizo-acid trip. Aronofsky seems to marry the psychological intensity of π with twelve years of Hollywood experience. Clint Mansell’s score (a sort of deconstructed Swan Lake) sounds amazing. Hopefully this one doesn’t get destroyed by The Hobbit trailer.

Biutiful (Alejandro González Iñárritu): As a director, Iñárritu has a lot to prove. Both Amores Perros and 21 Grams are outstanding, but you couldn’t pay me to watch Babel again. The question everyone’s asking: Does Javier Bardem + four years to recover from cringe-inducing Oscar bait = success? While it doesn’t quite seem like a Chighur-caliber performance, I’ll risk it.

The Fighter (David O. Russell): David O. Russell is a huge douchebag. He once made a decent movie (Three Kings), and even then, George Clooney (really?) nearly quit the set after a fistfight with the director. With I Heart Huckabees, he shamed the cinematic medium. But I have a huge soft-spot for Marky-Mark (who’s already getting some Best Actor talk). Given boxing films’ surprising track record with The Academy (including Best Pictures winners Rocky, Raging Bull, and Million Dollar Baby), this one’ll be around in March.

Jack-Ass 3D: With 3D that promises to shame Clash of the Titans and The Last Airbender, Jack-Ass 3D is pretty self-explanatory. Those expensive red and green glasses couldn’t even make me care about the Na’vi and their planet Pandora. But for Johnny Knoxville and company? Let the port-a-potties fly!

Let Me In (Matt Reeves): This film shouldn’t exist in the first place, and I kind of hate myself for putting it on this list. But hey, Hollywood remade Let the Right One In. And the trailer’s actually really good. Just as long as I don’t get too pissed at the annoying kid from The Road, I think this’ll be pretty enjoyable.

The Social Network (David Fincher): Fincher is probably the most technically precise and adept director in Hollywood. The only barrier between Benjamin Button and cinematic bliss is a good screenplay (because I think it’s a really bad one). Even though I never want to hear any version of Creep for a really long time, the trailer’s pretty damn good. Trent Reznor’s doing the score.
J-Timbo’s getting Best Supporting Actor buzz. Get ready.

Somewhere (Sofia Coppola): Sofia is the best Coppola in Hollywood today (and I’ll take a ‘70s Francis over anyone). Starring Stephen Dorff and Elle Fanning, Somewhere won the Golden Lion over a tough crowd in Venice. Set in Hollywood, the semi-autobiographical plot is somewhat inspired by Sofia’s own upbringing on her father’s film sets.

True Grit (The CoBros): If anyone else tried to remake the 1969 True Grit, I would not be happy. But I’m convinced that the Coen Brothers are the smartest directors working in Hollywood. They’re probably up to something pretty genius. If Jeff Bridges wins back-to-back Best Actor statues, it might make up for The Dude’s snub.



Remix Roundup: Little Bit by Lykke Li by carlmagazine
September 27, 2010, 10:13 pm
Filed under: Music

By. R. Orion Martin

With so many remixes and mashups torrenting around campus, one needs an instruction manual just to match the correct version of the song with the correct moment of Carleton life.

Lykke Li

The original Little Bit came out in 2007 by Swedish indie singer Li Lykke Timotej Zachrisson. She patterns her soft, whisp-like voice over plucked strings and a soothing beat. Definitely the most placid version of the song, ideal for the “I’ll stress out tomorrow” Saturday afternoon.

Death to the Throne

Many remixes lay a thumping base beat onto the song without thinking about how it affects the song as a whole. Death to the Throne is a promising up and coming remixer who goes above and beyond. He specializes in dance beats that have a life of their own. Death’s remix of Little Bit is perfect for the post Sayles dance party encore.

CCS

CCS turns to the synths for this quirky “knob-twiddling” version. Best suited for convincing your friends (or rivals) that you listen to more obscure versions of the music they like.

Villains or Gigamesh

Either of these remixes turns Little Bit into a danceable club hit without the originality and playfulness of the Death to the Throne remix. If you plot remixes on a black to white spectrum, these would mark the neutral gray where songs are catchy enough to dance to on the first listen but don’t leave a deep impression. Probably best for initiating new listeners.

Drake

Leaving the instrumentals of the song quite close to the original, Lykke Li adds a heartbeat base for this collaboration. Drake goes on the offensive against his girl’s friends? “Tell her get a man ain’t cheatin’ on her ass with a girl that I know yeah tell her all that.” If you find yourself falling into a facebook unofficial fling, look no further.

Runner-up Remixes

Eke Whaa

Matas Berlin

Staygold/Savage Skulls

Rapaport & Malmqvist

If you know more than me about music and want to help me write another article like this, I’d be psyched.



Roy Grow Speaks About Japanese and Chinese Politics by carlmagazine
September 25, 2010, 3:28 pm
Filed under: Academic, Politics

Minnesota Public Radio has posted an interview with International Relations Professor Roy Grow about transpacific economics. Roy is one of the best known professors teaching at Carleton, and not without cause. Not only is he a leading scholar in his field, but he is one of the best orators I have ever had the pleasure of meeting.

I was lucky enough to spend 3 months traveling with Roy and other Carleton students on the Beijing Seminar. It was the most frenetic and engaging travel I’ve ever done, and one of the highlights of my academic career at Carleton.



Odds and New Beginnings by carlmagazine
September 20, 2010, 10:09 am
Filed under: Campus, Internet, Misc.

Just as Superman was retconned back from the dead, so too is The Carl Online being restored to working order after an academic year of uneventful hibernation. No longer will Carls desperate for original writing about campus life, arts, and literature be slavishly bound to paper and ink.

Stay tuned for more updates.