Mountain Views News     Logo: MVNews     Saturday, January 19, 2013

MVNews this week:  Page 11



 Mountain Views News Saturday, January 19, 2013 




Book Reviews by Jasmine Kelsey Williams 

Review By Sean Kayden


Baked: A Novel By Mark Haskell Smith

This next choice for the month of January will transport you 
to another corner of the world, but the time period remains 
the same and as a result, will bring along an adventure of sex, 
drugs, and a dash of rock and roll. Mark Haskell Smith’s ‘Baked’ 
is a witty, funny, and thrilling adventure which focuses on the 
protagonist Miro Basinas, a so-called experimental botanist. 
This little factor of Miro, along with the simple title and vibrant 
cover that pull in the reader, but the information and the story 
that follows will certainly keep the reader engaged. Miro is 
an experimental botanist of sorts, but the key factor is that he 
grows his own special brand of marijuana which he wishes to 
sell to a high-bidding and discerning clientele. The action and 
humor will immediately be present as soon as the reader has 
gone through the first chapter, and learns that not only Miro is 
entering his special marijuana to the Amsterdam Cannabis Cup 
(the Golden Globes of weed so to speak), but that there also 
have been others secretly watching him and wanting to covet his 
brand for themselves. Smith does not hesitate to style his pacing 
as he sees fit, and the reader should recognize that his style of 
pacing is plenty for his genre of writing; slow interludes between other characters work in perfect 
sync with the fast-paced action between Miro and his compatriots, who find themselves in deep 
water when Miro is shot, his weed stolen, and to top it, a quest for revenge on who did it. 

Copyrighted in 2010, and having received generous praise from sources such as Booklist, Los 
Angeles Times, and Kirkus Reviews, ‘Baked’ is just the book you will be looking for when you 
wish to kick back and chill, or to keep you entertained for those long bus trips and airline flights. 
However, always keep in mind that ‘Baked’ does contain quite an amount of sexual and drug 
related content, so this is a read that should be directed to readers of a mature audience to make 
sure they are able to comprehend the scenarios that may play out when reading ‘Baked’. But for 
those who enjoy a fun adventure, hilarious mishaps, and a quest to find what you have lost when 
one has worked hard for it, ‘Baked’ will be the perfect read to enjoy and to satisfy all your tastes.

 After the departure of cellist, Alexandra Lawn, Ra Ra Riot decided to 
change gears from baroque pop rockers to electro-pop advocators. Perhaps 
her choice to leave the band had to do something with the decision to go 
down a different path. Nonetheless, their third album titled “Beta Love” is 
the band’s first venture into the overcrowded playground of synthesizers. As the album progresses, 
it becomes abundantly clear this is the band’s new style of choice, one which they don’t necessarily 
pull off as well as their competition. However, the effort is a bold one given their fan-base and while 
I must praise the band for breaking out of their 
own bubble, it’s just now they’ve entered into 
a bubble ready to burst. “Beta Love” is a risky 
removal from the band’s initial style. Despite 
that, Ra Ra Riot may have experienced a mild 
artistic crisis as they were developing their 
latest album. Whatever the case may be, the hit 
or miss factor plays from track to track. 

 “Dance With Me” kicks the album off in high gear. It’s an early indication of how the album will 
play out. It’s a fun track that will have you dancing in no time, but like with most songs found here, 
the emotional potency this band had on previous albums seems to be missing. It’s been traded in 
for frantic beats and modern technology. “Binary Mind” is a fine follow-up track. It has a great 
chorus and by far the most buoyant song off the relatively short album. Like the first track, it’s an 
amiable song, but everlasting it is not. My favorite track is the eponymous track, “Beta Love.” It’s 
sugary sweet with a killer falsetto to boot from frontman Wes Miles. The track is definitely slower 
than the previous two and while it is a synth-driven tune, it’s proof that Ra Ra Riot can pull off 
something great. The following track is “Is It Too Much.” This is one a slow electro-pop song that 
does try to mimic their previous sound, but with the added electronics. Strangely enough, it works 
and quite well. Sure the sound is moderately low beat and remains fairly consistent throughout, but 
with the inordinate vocals and beauty of it all makes for something surprisingly moving. 

 Unfortunately, Ra Ra Riot goes into a strange land with “What I Do For U.” A dreadful song 
that lasts less than two minutes that has altered vocals, space-like beats and indiscernible lyrics at 
times. “When I Dream” is another stinker. While I can enjoy the slower side of Ra Ra Riot, this 
one just drags you down. Maybe it’s because Miles’ falsetto is nowhere to be found, but this doesn’t 
feel like a traditional Ra Ra Riot tune. However I guess after this album, there really isn’t anything 
traditional about this band any more. “That Much” is a considerable improvement over the last 
two tracks mentioned, but unlike the first half the album doesn’t come close to being praiseworthy. 
It’s yet another song lacks a certain pizzazz. With an abundant of samples thrown in the mix and 
an obnoxious background of the lyrics “that much” being played in fragments, it becomes more 
annoying than welcoming over time. There’s a saving grace in the final act with the closing track, 
“I Shut Off.” Ra Ra Riot gathers much needed momentum in the end with this blistering, bold, and 
wickedly catchy track. Miles’ vocals are ultra smooth, the arrangements impress and the song is 
easily the most vintage sounding song even with Ra Ra Riot’s newfound love of electronics. 

 “Beta Love” whizzes by in a blink of an eye. Okay maybe in a really tired blink of an eye especially 
when those completely underwhelming, disposable songs play. At any rate, there are things to like 
here. You can have a little fun with “Dance With Me,” and “Beta Love,” and feel the gentler side of 
Ra Ra Riot with “Is It Too Much,” and “I Shut Off.” The problem is that while there are some decent 
songs, there are really only two or so really good tracks. The rest are rather uninspired and entirely 
unmemorable. Ra Ra Riot took a big swing, but came up short. The gamble they were hoping to 
win big with has left them breaking even. Perhaps even losing a little bit but hopefully coming away 
from it all with a new established outlook they can utilize next go around. 

Grade: 6.8 out of 10 

Artist: Ra Ra Riot 

Album: Beta Love 

Label: Barsuk


Date: January 22, 2013



Friday, January 25, 8 p.m., First Church of the Nazarene, Pasadena

WHO: Pasadena Community Orchestra

WHAT: Free orchestra concert features Dvorak’s Symphony No. 8, Schumann’s Cello Concerto in A 
Minor, and Henry Cowell’s Hymn and Fuguing Tune No. 3.

UCLA graduate student Christopher Ahn, who has performed in the U.S. and on four other continents, 
joins the orchestra for the Schumann. Symphony No. 8 displays a joyous spirit, and Dvorak’s beautiful 
use of Czech folk tunes. In the Cowell, the composer has fun with traditional melodies from the American 
South. A reception follows the concert, at which audience members will have the opportunity to 
meet the soloist and the other musicians.

WHERE: In the sanctuary of First Church of the Nazarene, 3700 E. Sierra Madre Blvd., Pasadena (just 
west of Michillinda Avenue). Free parking, wheelchair access.

WHEN: Friday, January 25, 8 p.m.

FURTHER INFORMATION: Please call 626.445.6708, contact, or visit our 
website at 




EXPAND BY DEMAND by Dr. Dennis Buckley

Norman Vincent Peele who wrote, “The Power of Positive Thinking” asked heavyweight boxing 
champion Gene Tunney how he had such well sculpted muscles. Gene replied that every day he 
pushed against massive resistance and his muscles expand by demand.

Problems are all around us. Dr. Peele said, “Problems are a sign of life.” The only people without 
problems are buried in a cemetery. 

Problems are like the resistance that you push against to sculpt strong muscles. Problems in our 
life are like resistance to mold our character and our souls.

Health problems need to be pushed against through action. If you are overweight you need to 
take action such as walking, running, biking, swimming and hiking. You push back against the 
accumulation of fat by moving to sculpt your body to have a better lean body mass to fat ratio and 
you look better!

If you are lethargic, get moving and stimulate your metabolism to elevate it and give you more 
energy. If your diet is poor, push back those sodas, chips, fried foods, red meat and build health 
with fruits and vegetables, whole grains and beans. Resist the bad stuff and welcome the good stuff.

You see the problems that develop in health whether it be an ache, the bathroom scale says you 
are too big, your blood pressure is too high, or your temperature is rising, are all problems and a 
sign of life if your react and push through this resistance by taking action. Take a different course 
and allow your life to get better, recover and expand your health and lifespan by responding to the 

Listen to your body. Welcome those problems and respond accordingly. It will keep you on track 
and help to avoid future problems as you learn to expand your influence over yourself by demand.

Nadi Shodhana(alternate nostril breath): I do this breath everyday and have 
really seen results. For the physical body it can bring balance and harmony 
to the system. It’s a good practice for menopause. It’s very good for mood 
swings. But it is not just for women. It’s about balance, which is something 
we all need in our lives. When breathing on alternate sides, the breath goes 
to the opposite side of the brain, which balances us mentally. Because one side of the brain is the side 
that keeps us fired up and active and the other side helps us think and or sleep. Nadi Shodhana is 
very good for resorting our natural sleep patterns. It can be done just before bed or first thing in the 

On an energetic level, it helps decongest and purify the nadis (channels of energy running up each side 
of the body). Ida is the feminine side, the lunar, yin, physically relaxing, passive, receptive side that 
controls sense organs. Pingala is the masculine, solar, yin side that activates and makes us dynamic. 
These sides of us need balance.


Sit comfortably on a chair or cushion, spine tall. Run your right thumb down the right side of your 
nose to just below the bone and close off the right side. Breathe in through the left nostril. Close off 
the left nostril with the ring finger and exhale through the right side. Now inhale through the right side. 
Block off the right side and exhale through the left. That is one round. Do this for 15 minutes daily, in 
a calm place. If you do this everyday for 30 days, I promise you will feel more balance in your life. You 
will react less. It really works. Of course, it is best to work with an experienced teacher at first.

May your life be balanced and beautiful.

Namasté, René