Killer Piks: Books, movies and music reviews

Thu, 11/15/2012 - 12:00pm

    Killer Piks is a monthly review of books, movies, and music by people who are obsessed with books, movies and music.


    And the Pursuit of Happiness

    by Lacy Simons

    Did you know that George Washington had 36 dogs, and one of them was named Sweet Lips? And that the botanist John Bartram, a great friend of Benjamin Franklin, named a camellia-like tree in Franklin's honor? (The Franklinia, which blooms in late summer.) I know these things now, and so much more, because of Maira Kalman. (You'll likely recognize her style from her earlier books, including The Principles of Uncertainty and piles of children's books, as well as numerous New Yorker covers.) Her latest book--a gorgeous, heart-melting combination of writing, painting and photography called And the Pursuit of Happiness--was first published in the New York Times as a 12-part illustrated blog. Energized and inspired by the 2008 election, Kalman traveled to Washington, D.C., launching a year-long country-wide investigation of American democracy and its workings, and the result is as idiosyncratic and goosebump-raising as can be; each chapter delves into a different story, a different meditation on democracy and happiness and humanity. It sounds treacly and overearnest, but it couldn't be farther from that. Maira Kalman is magic, and this book tells you all you need to know about what I mean.

    Lacy Simons is the owner and operator of hello hello books, which opened in August 2011 adjacent to Rock City Cafe, in Rockland. She is a reader, a maker, and a collector of fine-point pens and terrible jokes. To find more picks and reads: Twitter: @hellohellobooks.


    Crooked Arrows

    by Jim Dandy

    “Long ago, the medicine game was given to the people of the Haudenosaunee to entertain the creator.”

    This opening line sets the tone for Crooked Arrows, a film that honors the sacred origins of lacrosse and the traditions of the Native Americans who play. Brandon Routh is Joe Logan, a mixed-blood Native American and former prep-school lacrosse star with big plans for expanding his tribe's casino. However, college and success have clouded Joe's vision. Before he can close the deal between the investors and the the tribal council, he is tasked with re-examining his spirit. Joe must prove himself worthy to the council by coaching their losing lacrosse team. By showing them the true meaning of tribal spirit, he can restore pride to his people and to the game, while learning the value of loyalty himself.

    Sound like good medicine? It is!

    Crooked Arrows is a feel good sports movie, rich in tradition as well as an authentic portrayal of native Americans today. "There's nothing wrong with a crooked arrow. As long as it follows its own path, it will find its way."

    Tiffany Howard and Jim Dandy co-own Opera House Video, an independent video rental store in downtown Belfast featuring an extensive collection of new releases, foreign films, documentaries, classics and television series. Each takes turns writing the movie review. Find them on Facebook at Opera House Video.



    by Nathaniel Bernier

    With Ryan Bingham's first album since the magnificent 2010 release, Junky Star, and the first on his own label without his usual backing band, The Dead Horses, I was definitely interested to put my ear to this.  The first song is a frolicking Americana tune whipping some strings into a frenzy, as his gravelly chords churn up the dust from the floor of a lonesome saloon.  A little angry in this first cut, perhaps socially as well as politically, he rips into each transition with fervor.  The second cut starts out and dances along at a more steady, melodic pace, urging one to sing along.  The amount of layering in this six-minute cut drives it through the mountains and valleys and over the streams and scrubby wasteland, but you won't notice as you'll be inspired to shut your eyes and listen intently.

    Chunky guitars fraught with reverberation and twisted knobs open up the punk attitude-soaked Guess Who's Knocking, a song the Ramones could have easily sung.  I think my favorite song comes in at a funky rockabilly cut with lifting old-school country lyrics about loving a little honey while loving all the amazing great music found in these parts.  A jumping juke, this song really shows the versatility of this amazing showman and songwriter.  Bluesy guitars open up the next tune and a thumping drum and bass-line drive it along.  Wonderful tunes continue to spit out of my player, one after another.  Slowed-down acoustic pieces that explore a very talented songwriter who, maybe, really was finding himself on this record.  He seems to pull from other genres more so than from his more straightforward alt-rock country twists.  Strings, keyboards, blues riffs, rockabilly- it's all here and it's all great.  This young man will be around for a nice long time, living in a place of yesterday, today and Tomorrowland.

    Nathaniel "Natty B" Bernier, owner of Wild Rufus Records previously retail and now online, has immersed himself in music for 35 years, hosting several radio shows, deejaying at clubs and parties, writing music reviews and interviewing artists.  He lives on the coast of Maine and continues to live through music.  Find him at or