I was pessimistic about “A Different Kind of Truth,” Van Halen’s first album with original lead singer David Lee Roth in 28 years. If asked to define my opinion in a word, I would have said curious, but certainly not excited. As much as I love listening to the band’s older work, 28 years is a long time. Add to that the band’s mostly mediocre work with post-Roth singer Sammy Hagar and a 14-year gap without a full new album at all, and it was hard for me to see where Van Halen would fit in circa 2012.

Despite my appreciation of music and almost-unhealthy habit of listening to it while doing just about anything, I am often accused of not appreciating newer music enough. However, my complaint is not with new music in general; I just wish that the most popular artists were also the best. Unlike in the 1960s and early 1970s, when the Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Bob Dylan, Marvin Gaye, the Rolling Stones and Black Sabbath were among the biggest artists in the world as well as the best, nowadays it seems that one has to cut through much more in order to find the diamonds in the rough.

In turning my attention to writing about music, something I must confess I am new to, I was unsure of what to write about at first. I thought to myself: there must have been something released in the past year that means something to me. Something new that I would want to talk about. Something new that I feel an uncontrollable desire to tell everyone I meet to go out and listen to. Something relevant to a modern audience. After pondering this option, I thought, why bother?

“The Almighty Alum” is a series of interviews with alumni who have meandered far beyond their college majors.

The day has finally come. One of cinema’s most esoteric, obtuse-sounding pairings has finally been realized. “Drive,” the new film from Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn, deftly blends two dissimilar cinematic worlds: those of the art and action film. In its sensibilities, it’s at one with any of the most popular art films to come out of Europe in the past 10 years. And yet, particularly in the later half, it adopts a distinctly 70s action crime film vibe. It’s about as strange a pairing as can be found in film; it’s unlike anything I have ever seen before.