The Magicians

A step back to the future this week with Lev Grossman’s homage to and re-imagining of modern fantasy, The Magicians. A pop-cultured urban tale where secret magic and fantastical worlds are real, but so is all of boring old life’s other horrible stuff. And, best of all, the people who do magic don’t handle the real world stuff all that well. It’s a total thaumaturgic train wreck! Think Holden Caulfield does Narnia.

Just don’t call it an “adult Harry Potter mix” here.

“Quentin did a magic trick. Nobody noticed.”: Show the World – Apples in Stereo

Quentin Coldwater:  Danglin’ Feet – Devotchka
Huh, a socially awkward teenager obsessed with child fantasy novels is having trouble getting laid and feels sorry for himself. Go figure. At least he gets to do magic and stuff…when I was that age, I just sat in my basement waiting for AOL to load pics of Kathy Ireland.

Entrance Exam: Prove It – Television
Card tricks, inventing languages, and drawing things that suddenly come to life…now that’s my kind of test.  So much more fun than Christmas treeing the SAT.

Brakebills: College – Animal Collective / Freak Scene – Dinosaur Jr
Hogwarts mixed with Animal House. Okay, where do I sign up?

Elliot Waugh: A Drinking Song – Divine Comedy / Ballad of Big Nothing – Elliott Smith
“If he gets drunk on fine wine and plays Miss Misery one more time…I swear I am going to fireball his mopey ass.” Elliot’s clearly more of a Conor Oberst fan, but we aren’t, so he ain’t getting his dream theme song.

Penny: 30 Century Man – Scott Walker
My question is if one could master space, time, and dimensional travel, why in the world would they sport a mohawk?

Janet Pluchinsky: Because the Night – Patti Smith
Both Patti and Janet could probably bully me into making out with them and have it be the greatest moment of my life. Speaking of which, why does this never happen?

Josh Hoberman: When Jokers Attack – The Brian Jonestown Massacre
Its not such a bad thing to be the comic relief, especially when you are sporting some sort of untapped power within. People are more likely to be laughing WITH you if they know at any moment you can summon a terrifying portal.

Alice Quinn: Wallflower – Doug Sahm
I think it is impossible to read this book and not fall a little bit in love with Alice. I mean, its not like on weekends and most weeknights I sit at home writing several volumes of fan fiction detailing her crazy adventures and boy troubles in alternate universe or anything silly like that. I may have started a Tumblr page about her.

Physical Kids: Bad Reputation – Joan Jett
What?! Just cause we are brilliant, hedonistic, esoteric, narcissistic, recite spells in several dead languages, traverse continents as geese, have pet monster tattoos, and are generally so much better than you?

Life After Graduation: Just Be Simple – Songs: Ohia
Unending amounts of time and money and limitless powers may sound like a recipe for total happiness, but…well, wait. Yup, that really should bring you happiness. What gives?

Quentin & Alice: No Children – The Mountain Goats / No – The Wedding Present
Its always a little rough when the “doing it as arctic foxes” stage of the relationship is over. And who better than John Darnielle to write a song about ensorcelling unfaithfulness? Well, maybe that guy from the Weddoes. I reckon he can conjure up a trick or two about what to do when the magic disappears for a spell.

The Neitherlands: Holes – Mercury Rev
If I had the gang’s all-access magic button pass to any fantasy world I would totally head down to Middle Earth, then Oz, then Donkey Kong world, and finally, for dessert, Candy Land. Just got to make sure I avoid holes for Neverland Ranch, Jar Jar Binks’ planet, and Kansas. Ugh, worst vacation ever.

Fillory: This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody) – Talking Heads
Looks like Narnia. Smells like Narnia. Weird talking critters like Narnia…just has a lot less religion and a lot more booze.

The Watcherwoman: Time is on My Side – Irma Thomas
Halting time forever is such delicious dastardly plot. Why don’t more villains work that angle?
I tried planting some clock-trees in my yard…that was a waste of a perfectly good Indiglo. Just in case you ever try it, remember: Swatches ain’t acorns.

The Beast: Prince of Darkness – Mekons
Classic “Obsessive English schoolboy turns into crazed world-destroying demigod” situation. If I had a quarter…

Alice’s Sacrifice: I Would Die 4 U – Prince
Alright, in full nerd disclosure, technically Alice didn’t die, rather she purposefully turned into a niffin which is some sort of a creature consisting of raw magic energy. Too bad Prince doesn’t have a song called “I Would Turn N2 A Niffin 4 U”.

Julia Wicker: I Don’t Love Anyone – Belle & Sebastian
Nobody wants to know about a magical kingdom and be told you can’t go there. This is basically how I feel about Canada. Also, one time, I heard there was a bar that served mixed drinks in fish bowls, but by the time I finally made it there it was against the law or something. Ergh. Julia’s story in Book 2 is great though. Hang in there.

The Real World Again/The End: You Were Right – Built to Spill
At some point, most of us figure out that even the greatest fantasies and aspirations can often be just sad dreams realized through jarring reality checks. But then again, of course, most of us don’t get to be kings and queens of our fanciful misconceptions, do we?


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