2016: The Year In Review

Year-end is a time for reflection. What went well, what didn’t? What would you change or keep the same? What lessons can be learned?

2016 continued to feel like a holding pattern. After resigning from vocational ministry in January 2015, I have struggled to find solid footing. I have found part-time employment but have struggled to find “what’s next” for me and my family and we have struggled to find a faith community.

But through it all, I have felt challenged to know myself more fully. I have been thinking a lot about the fantastic Tom Waits quote: “Be devoted to the unification of the diverse aspects of yourself.” I have been fascinated by both Mennonite and Anglican thought. I have moved away from Republianity and deeper into a desire to understand how Christianity fuels social justice.

Through it all, I am deeply thankful for family and proven friends. When you resign from ministry, you realize that many people who you thought were your friends were . . . well, I don’t know, except to say that it’s easy to feel lonely. I am thankful for friends who prove themselves to be just that, regardless of my position.

The past couple of years have felt like a pruning and I’m excited to see what flowers from it.

In the meantime, let’s look back a bit.

  • Browse my favorite books and authors of 2016.
  • Browse my favorite albums of 2016.
  • Stream a two-volume mix of some of my favorite 2016 songs.

2016: The Year in Books

I made a concerted effort to read more books this year with no constraints on what I read. Simply read what I want. I didn’t make it to a book a week, but I did make it through 45 books, which I think is pretty good.

Though I had no intention to do so, I read mostly fiction this year and it turned out to be great for my soul. Fiction has a way of capturing the human condition and imagination in a way that many non-fiction books don’t.

Here are some of my favorite things I read in 2016 (in no particular order):

The Dark Tower Series by Stephen King – I started this series something like 20 years ago but (for no reason I can remember except that my reading habits became captured by theology for several years) never finished it. But there was something about Roland that would reappear in my imagination from time to time so I decided to finally work through the series and I’m glad I did.

Combining elements of epic quest tales with a spaghetti-western vibe, this is not what you might typically expect from Stephen King. (buy)

The March trilogy by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell – Dispatches from the front lines of the American Civil Rights movement. Don’t let anyone tell you that comics can’t be important. This should be required reading for anyone trying to understand race relations in the U.S. Your heart will break and you will be inspired. (buy)

Kurt Vonnegut – I read more Kurt Vonnegut than any other author else this year. By my account, I read 12 of his books. I know that his openly humanist atheism might cause some of my Christian friends some concern but Vonnegut’s books dwell deeply on the human condition. He often wrestles with the idea of what it means to be human in the midst of inhumanity. His keen insight, sense of humor and absurdist situations allow us to reflect not only on war but how we can achieve peace. Vonnegut has quickly become one of my favorite authors and I look forward to reading the rest of his material. (buy)

What were your favorite reads of 2016?

Reading, Listening, Watching, etc.

book-eye-glasses-ipod-love-music-Favim.com-1342041Welcome to this very irregular series where I chronicle some of what I’ve been reading and listening to lately. I like to be very intentional about the things I spend my time with and I also try to be very intentional about reflecting on those things. Yes, you might call it nerdy. Whatever. Don’t be mean. I’m a very sensitive soul.

Anyway, here’s what’s been going in lately:

Listening:

Several new albums have worked their way into my earholes this week:

SturgillSimpsonArt_zpsk5o3to2rA Salior’s Guide to Earth by Sturgill Simpson.

Simpson’s Metamodern Sounds in Country Music was one of my top-five favorite albums of 2014. Having already established himself as one of the top voices in “outsider country” music, Simpson could have repeated himself and very few people would have batted an eye. Instead Simpson builds on his foundation with strings, horns and moody hooks. Perhaps what strikes most people is the cover of Nirvana‘s “In Bloom”. A well-done cover song is not only recognizable but becomes something new. The song takes on new life as its sung with a different voice and Simpson definitely has an ear for picking the right cover. His cover of When in Rome’s “The Promise” blew as many people away as his Nirvana cover has polarized. But trust me, it works exceedingly well in the context of the album as a whole. Themes of fatherhood, life, death and the days in between provide the groundwork for an artist clearly pushing himself and his audience. Highly recommended.

Check out the Nirvana cover in question:



Check out ‘Brace For Impact (Live A Little)’ live on Colbert:



woodsCity Sun Eater In The River Of Light by Woods

Woods is one of those bands that I’ve always thought highly of but never listened to deeply. No reason why. There are just some of those bands in our worlds, right? I’ve listened to a couple of their albums but never really spent significant time with any of them. That’s changed with their newest release, City Sun Eater In The River of Light. Highly influenced by Ethiopiques series, especially Ethiopian jazz, not many bands could make the jump from psychedelic folk to world music quite so seamlessly. In the words of Pitchfork, “Turns out Woods is one of them.”

Here’s the lead “single” “Sun City Creeps”:



tmr339_front_550Midwest Farmers Daughter by Margo Price

Reminding us that the resurgence of “real” and/or “outlaw” or “outsider” country (whatever you want to call it) doesn’t just belong to men, Price has fashioned a timeless album full of all the heartwarming heartbreak a great country album should deliver. With tales of personal struggle and sometimes victory, Price reminds us that country music is far from dead, despite what the charts tells us is popular.

Here’s “Hurtin’ (On The Bottle)” live at the Grand Ol’ Opry:



Screen Shot 2016-04-22 at 2.57.13 PMMix From the Dashboard by Various Artists

Read my post about this mix that I happened across in my dashboard crap-hole. Featuring Anathallo, Ramsay Midwood and others, it’s a mix I have no recollection of making and seems to be a fairly random collection of songs. But I dig it.

Reading:

9780312373511_p0_v2_s192x300The Time Quintent by Madeleine L’Engle

So, for some reason, I never read L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time when I was younger. I don’t remember it ever being assigned reading though I always remember being aware of the book. So, I finally decided to read it and lo and behold, it’s the first of a five-book series! So I read the whole series. A great young adult fantasy/science-fiction series with lots of theological fodder for reflection. An entertaining and worthwhile read if you haven’t.

71qLnZuj5SL_zpsaqyp1mmzThings Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

I actually picked up this book at a garage sale only to find out later that its considered a classic by many and was in fact, assigned reading for many. Another case where the Glendale, AZ school system failed me with their assigned reading lists? Maybe I’m just too old and I was in school before it became assigned reading? Anyhow, I’m about half-way through it so far and its quite a good read and does what much of the best fiction does, draws you in to a world unlike your own.

gutierrez-theology-of-liberation-9780883445426-crop-325x325A Theology of Liberation by Gustavo Gutierrez

I don’t question the validity of penal substitutionary atonement nor its importance (and vital place) as a theory of the atonement. Perhaps even the primary theory but I am not sure it is the totality of the Gospel. I have long wanted to read authors and viewpoints outside of my normal traveling circles on this issue for quite some time and I’m starting with what many to consider to be a classic. Have you read it? Thoughts?

downloadBetween the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

I’ve heard great things about this book for quite some time and I’m finally getting a chance to read it. Hailed by Toni Morrison as “required reading,” it just shows to go you that its never too late to get around to all that “required reading”.

 

Watching

91d053F2aKL._SY445_Kristi and I don’t get to watch a whole lot of television or movies for ourselves but sometimes we do like to watch something at bed-time. We watched Parks and Recreation all the way through and loved the characters. So it wasn’t a stretch to go back and watch The Office. We’re in season three and we’ve seen most but not all of the episodes up to this point but not much beyond that. As with any good television show, it’s the characters that keep you coming back for more. The Office is no exception, though you get a good idea pretty early on of what the characters are like, they are allowed to grow and grow on you from there.

 

the Weekly Town Crier

towncrierWell hi there. How are you? How’s your week been? was it a good week or a bad week? Was it a busy week or a slow week. Did your week leave you feeling weak?

Well have no fear, the Weekly Town Crier is here to inform you on all of the things about which you are ill informed. Or maybe he just collects links of interest and passes them along to you for your interest.

Buy my art here or here or contact me directly to purchase originals.

Browse Large Hearted Boy‘s list of “100 Online Sources for Free and Legal Music Downloads.”

Listen to a mix of some of my favorite songs released in 2015.

Browse my 42 favorite albums of 2015.

Download a three-volume mix of Jesusy songs I collected.

R.I.P. Louis Meyers, co-founder of SXSW.

R.I.P. Marco Rubio’s presidential bid.

Read Christianity Today‘s piece: “Israeli Christians Think and Do Almost the Opposite of American Evangelicals”.

Read about the Florida Sheriff who has pledged “to arrest CEO Tim Cook if Apple resists crypto cooperation”.

Read as Consequence of Sound considers the legacy of MTV’s 120 Minutes. Remember when the Music Television Network actually thought music mattered?

Read as jazz drummer Jimmy Cobb reflects on the making of some of Miles Davis‘ greatest albums at Uncut magazine.

Read as Paste magazine talks with a proponent of the flat earth theory.

Read as Flavorwire profiles Obama’s SXSW role this year.

Read as Peter Capaldi criticizes their BBC for neglecting Doctor Who.

Read as Damien Jurado talks with Paste and opens up about battle with depression: “I Went from the Light Really Into the Black.”

Read as Salon reports that the estate of Harper Lee has begun actions to cease the publication of the (rightly) ubiquitous mass market paperback edition of To Kill A Mocking bird.

Read Consequence of Sound‘s report that the Eagles are breaking up.

Read Brain Pickings‘ piece: “Neil Gaiman on How Stories Last”.

  • Read as The Guardian considers “Neil Gaiman’s Sandman: maybe a film adaptation just isn’t meant to be”.

Read as The Atlantic considers: “The Trader Joe‘s Lesson: How to Pay a Living Wage and Still Make Money in Retail”.

Read Uncrate‘s report that AC/DC is canceling the remainder of their tour dates as Brian Johnson faces total hearing loss.

Read as The Daily Beast profiles “The Stupidly Simple Spy Messages No Computer Could Decode”.

Read as Ars Technica reports: “Google AI goes 3-0, wins Go match against Lee Se-dol”.

Read as On The Media argues: “Why The Publishing Industry Isn’t In Peril”.

Read as Bryan Cranston tells The Advocate that he’d love to star in a Malcom in the Middle reunion.

Browse “The Scariest Urban Legend From Every State” at Thought Catalog.

Read about the “New company offering same-day in-home releases of new films”from Napster founder Sean Parker which has received the “backing of Abrams, Spielberg.”

Read Techly‘s report that “In Switzerland, It’s Illegal To Own Just One Guinea Pig Because They’re Prone To Loneliness”.

Browse Fast Company‘s list of “7 Interview Questions For Measuring Emotional Intelligence”.

Read Damn Interesting‘s profile of Colonel Sanders.

Crank Out Infinite Geometric Designs With The Wooden Cycloid Drawing Machine” at Colassal. 

Read Brooklyn Vegan‘s piece about an increasing problem: homeowners move into areas with (already) existing music venues and then make noise complaints, and win.

Read “Relevant”‘s report that Hillsong is getting its own television network.

Read reports that Christian celebrity speaker Mark Driscoll will launch his new speaking platform here in AZ on Easter Sunday.

Read The Observer‘s profile of Chris Forsyth & the Solar Motel Band on the release of their magnificent double album The Rarity of Experience. Forsyth discusses the influence of R.E.M, Television, the Dead and wonders on his Facebook page of the interview: “I talked a lot about why the Solar Motel Band is actually jazz band in flannel or something.”

  • Read Pitchfork‘s review of the album: “Solar Motel Band leader Chris Forsyth strikes a near-perfect balance between ’70s rock tradition and present-day experimentation with his signature guitar tone.”

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Reading, Listening, Watching, etc.

Screen Shot 2016-03-11 at 2.06.10 PMLet’s be honest here: these posts are more for me than you. I mean, I’m pleasantly pleased if you do read them and even more pleasantly pleased if you find something you like. But I like keeping track of things I’m reading, listening to and reading so that I can compare the things I’ve taken in with the things that make it to my “favorites of the year” list. I listen to a lot of music and I try to read, on average, a book a week (though it doesn’t always work out that way) and its neat to be able to look back and see how certain bands, songs, books, movies, television shows, etc. can remind you of very specific times in your life.

With all of that long-windedness in mind, here is some of what I’ve been digging lately:

Reading:

Brothers Karamozov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

download_zps5o9nfob7Yes, I’m still making my way through Brothers Karamozov. Want to make something of it? What, you think you’re world’s fastest reader or something? Well, maybe you are. How was I supposed to know. Anyways, it’s really good.

 

ESV Journaling Bible, Interleaved Edition

Image-1I recently picked up the Interleaved edition of the ESV journaling bible. I love to make lots of notes, draw and doodle. It helps me process, so I was considering having a custom bible bound but I went ahead and opted for the interleaved ESV Journaling Bible. I went with the brown cloth one and overall I really like it. I wish the pages were a bit thicker but then again I didn’t want to go to the time and trouble to design my own so I can’t/won’t complain too much.

Listening:

Gaelynn Lea/Murder of Crows

unnamedNPR Music’s Tiny Desk Concerts have a now-annual contest to be given a Tiny Desk Concert. This year’s winner, Gaelynn Lea beat out over 6,000 other entries and it’s easy to see why. Combining looping with ancient Irish melodies, Lea creates hauntingly beautiful songs. If you haven’t seen the contest-winning video, peep it here. The visuals focus on the desk until the melody has sufficiently captured you. Then, once the vocals come in, the camera pans 61XsgKA2poL._SS280back to reveal Lea, a small woman in a wheelchair who plays the violin like others would the cello. Far from being a hindrance, Lea’s size makes her approach to the violin utterly unique.

Lea also plays with Low/Retribution Gospel Choir/Black Eyed Snakes guy Alan Sparkhawk as Murder of Crows. Watch Lea’s Tiny Desk Concert featuring Sparhawk here:



And watch the duo perform one of my current favorite songs, “Your Battle” in 2011:



  • Visit Gaelynn Lea’s website
  • Visit Murder of Crow’s website
  • Read an interview with Lea about working with Sparhawk
  • Buy Lea’s music at Amazon

Star & Micey

51no5jBV5pL._SS280Memphis’ Star & Micey just released their debut LP (they have released several EPs and singles) Get ‘Em Next Time. The band creates infectious and urgent good ol’ rockitty roll and dangitall if they aren’t just really good. They are. I like them. I think you might too.

You can stream the album now at Soundcloud, or check out the band performing “I Can’t Wait” for Audiotree:



Here’s “Everything” from the same Audiotree sessions:



  • Visit Star & Micey’s official website
  • Buy the band’s music at Amazon

Mount Moriah

mountmoriah_zpse2d7rjru As if we haven’t already had enough musical goodness today, I want to add Chapel Hill’s Mount Moriah to the mix. The band’s newest album How To Dance has become one of my favorites of the year so far. Paste magazine named the band “the best of what’s next” way back in 2013 and the band has only solidified their sound since then. Describing the band’s maturation, Pitchfork says: “The trio is now so fluent in roots music that it passes as their native tongue.”

Here’s the band as a duo performing “Calvander” for Paste:



Watch the official video for the track “Precita”:



  • Visit the band’s official website

Watching:

Parks and Recreation

maxresdefaultWe are almost all the way through Parks and Recreation. We don’t watch much “live television” so we’ve seen the show but never regularly. That’s the beauty of a service like Netflix or Amazon Prime. We’ve just about made our way through the show and it’s been really good. Like any good show, it is filled with great characters who have been not only casted well but developed over time.

Watch Ron Swanson on Snake Juice:



What media have you been digging lately, my faithful pop culture digging friends?!

Reading and Listening (And Watching)

Screen Shot 2016-03-06 at 2.10.25 PMWell hidey ho there, neighboroony! How are you doing on this fine-feathered day? How is your physical health? Fine, I hope? And how is your spiritual health? How is your soul? Can you say, and mean it: it is well with my soul? If not, why not? If so, bully for you! What’s in the air tonight that makes it well with your soul? If not, what is blocking your soul from wellness and how can I help? Remember, kids, pain is just weakness leaving the body and, with apologies to Ron Swanson, crying is acceptable at more circumstances than simply funerals and the Grand Canyon, though it is certainly acceptable then too.

Whew.

Shake it off.

Leave it behind.

Keep.

Moving.

Forward.

Feel it?

Ahh, now that we’ve worked through some pretty heavy stuff, I’d like to share with you some of the things that I’ve been accepting into my cultural intake valves this week.

Reading:

download_zps5o9nfob7Ain’t no shame in my game; Yes I’m still working through Dostoyevsky’s Brothers Karamazov. Give me a break, it’s over 700 pages, for crying out loud! I’m around 450 pages in, which is the equivalent of several books! Plus, we’re 10 weeks into the year and I’ve already read 13 books, which puts me ahead of schedule for my desire to read 1 book/week during 2016. I know it’s an arbitrary goal and I am not willing to rush my reading simply to keep after an arbitrarily self-assigned goal.

So, with all that being said, I love this book. I have previously let its length dissuade me from tackling it. That, and in all honesty, I have been somewhat been put-off by the “Russian literature” thing. I envisioned it to be cold, stark and brutal, much like architecture of  Russian busstops. But this book is anything but cold, stark, or brutal. The characters brim with warmth and true personality. You may not like the Karamozov family but Dostoyevsky creates them with such depth that you are drawn in to their tragic tale. With with and wisdom, Dostoyevsky creates empathy for some truly horrible people, reminding us that, the greatest of these is love.

Listening:

Holy, Moly, Me Oh My, what a great week for music releases. I picked up several new releases that I’m really excited to listen to. In nothing more than alphabetical order, I am really enjoying this week:

downloadChris Forsyth & the Solar Motel BandThe Rarity of Experience. Guitar rock rocker Chris Forsyth continues with the band originally assembled for the Solar Motel Band album and the results are spectacular. Given the room of a double album, the band pushes further into some experimental psychedelic rock, including the addition of vocals. Given the room to stretch, the Solar Motel Band prove themselves to be a musical force. There are a few guitarists/songwriters that I would say are really at the top of their game right now dancing with the Dead‘s legacy: Kurt Vile, Steve Gunn, to name a couple. And, definitely Chris Forsyth. Great, straight-ahead, sometimes psychedelic guitar rock. Yes, and amen.

  • Read Tiny Mix Tapes‘ review of The Rarity of Experience.

homepage_large.31d39fa4Esperanza Spalding: Emily’s D+Evolution. Renowned bassist Esperanza Spalding has worked for her renown, paying her dues in overlapping worlds of jazz, soul, blues. But she seems to be an artist who realizes that as commercial success increases, the ability to truly be fueled by creativity often decreases. After taking two years away from the music business, Spalding emerges confidently to continue pushing boundaries. Soulful and artsy.

  • Read as Pitchfork names Emily’s D+Evolution “Best New Music”.

la-sera-music-for-listening-album-ryan-adamsLa Sera Music for Listening to Music to. Produced by Ryan AdamsMusic for Listening to Music to carries equal echoes of Adams’ alt. country and the Smiths. Plenty of jangly hooks and hints of soulful swagger with nonchalant but not entirely non-committal vocal deliveries. Not quite detached but also not entirely present.

  • Read The Guardian‘s review: “less garage rock, more Smiths”.

a3167971903_16Guerilla Toss: Eraser Stargazer: Existing somewhere in the ether of what many might call “n0 wave” (not so much a genre in and of itself as the intersection of dance, rock, pop, punk, funk and noise), Guerilla Toss have just released their follow-up to the 2015 Flood Dosed EPEraser Stargazer. Often subversive and usually danceable (not that I do much dancing myself, but if I were so inclined, this music would definitely work).

  • Read Sound Implosion‘s review: “To some, no-wave and dance-punk might not seem like things that should be mixed, but . . . Guerilla Toss definitely succeed”.

Watching:

outsiders_mountain_MWGN’s Outsiders. Ged, Ged-yeh. Part the Killing, Sons of Anarchy and Twin Peaks, the show starts out strong with plenty of mystery surrounding the Farrell clan, a family who has squatted on the same KY mountain for hundreds of years. The Big Bad Coal Company wants their land and all sorts of mayhem ensues. A morally ambiguous sheriff finds himself at the center of the conflict. All of this is fine but the show really succeeds on the strength of the characters. The show may not win any major awards but it is worth the time.

  • Read Variety‘s review of the show.

the Weekly Town Crier

London's Town Crier copyI don’t know about you but I love spicy artichoke jalapeño dip. I mean, with some wavy potato chips or the thicker plain chips. Not the thin ones because the dip is too thick for those sissy chips. No sissy chips up in he-yah. Know what I mean, Vern?

Man, sometimes it just hits the spot if you know what I mean. No? Well, you really should try some.

Buy my art here or here or contact me directly to purchase originals.

Visit our family blog: “The Thomas Ten.”

Browse Large Hearted Boy‘s list of “100 Online Sources for Free and Legal Music Downloads.”

Listen to a mix of some of my favorite songs released in 2015.

Browse my 42 favorite albums of 2015.

Download a three-volume mix of Jesusy songs I collected.

R.I.P. Harper Lee.

R.I.P. Umberto Eco.

R.I.P. Samuel Willenberg, “the last known survivor of the Nazi death camp Treblinka.”

R.I.P. Jeb Bush’s presidential bid.

R.I.P. Ben Carson’s presidential campaign.

R.I.P. First Lady Nancy Reagan.

Browse the lineup for this year’s Pitchfork music festival.

Browse Phoenix New Times‘ list of “Arizona’s 30 Most Influential Musicians.”

Learn about caffeinated toothpaste.

Read about Sub Pop Records offering “college scholarships to ‘losers’ and ‘art-enthused misfits'”.

Read as Smithsonian considers “How the Phonograph Changed Music Forever”.

Read as Salon argues: “Stop buying old Bob Dylan albums: “Every time somebody buys a reissue, they’re just taking money away from new musicians”. But I like Bob Dylan and new music . . .

Watch a “1970 documentary about Hunter S. Thompson‘s run for mayor of Aspen”.

  • Read as The Washington Post opines: “If only Hunter S. Thompson could have lived to take on this election”.

Browse as NPR’s Jazz Night In America considers the history of “Jazz slang”.

Read as The Washington Post considers three cocktails that “pair perfectly with classic literature”.

Read USA Today‘s profile of Mavis Staples.

Browse as The Guardian compares streaming services.

Browse Paste‘s picks for “10 Essential Short Story Collections”.

Read as The Guardian considers: “Slave to the algorithm? How music fans can reclaim their playlists from Spotify“.

Read as Consequence of Sound reports that a “Fall Coachella Festival” is imminent.

Read reports that Apple is implementing a trade-in program for iPhones.

Read Vinyl Factory‘s report that new printed city guides for vinyl are being made available for select cities.

Read The Atlantic‘s report on the return of Planet Earth.

Ever wonder why you sometimes feel “phantom phone vibrations”?

Read Smithsonian‘s piece: “Long Before Jack Daniels, George Washington Was a Whiskey Tycoon.”

Read as Gillian Anderson talks about Dave Grohl‘s X-Files cameo and how it came to be.

Read as AV Club urges us to reconsider “the grim and gritty Dark Age of superhero comics.”

Read Live For Live Music‘s report: “The Leaked Tracklisting For The National‘s Extensive Grateful Dead Tribute Is Incredible”.

Hear “a giant 800-track alt/indie-focused 90’s playlist in chronological order”.

Read about the new vinyl-pressing plant promising tw0-week turnaround.

Read CNN‘s report: “Beyoncé offered security for concert by Louis Farrakhan“.

Browse as Consequence of Sound considers “Which Artists Are Still Holding Out on Streaming”.

Browse “Relevant”‘s list of “8 Biographies Everyone Should Read”.

Read Paste‘s report: “Pixar Made an App That Helps the Blind Experience Movies”.

Read Fact Magazine‘s report: “Discogs sold 6.6 million records in 2015”.

Watch Bill Gates DJ on Jimmy Fallon.

See shoes that grow with you.

Read “Relevant”‘s piece: “Justin Bieber: Without God I’d Be a Terrible Person”.

Listen as the BBC discusses poetry form.

Read as Lucinda Williams discusses her discography with Spin.

Browse Flavorwire‘s picks for “The 10 Albums You Need to Hear in March”.

Ever wonder: “How Does ‘A Wrinkle in Time‘ Look on a Map?”

Read Paste‘s: “4 Questions for Brooklyn Brewery’s Garrett Oliver”.

Reading and Listening

Screen Shot 2016-02-25 at 4.41.44 PMI’ m a firm believer in actively thinking about the media I consume. Though I might be guilty of an episode or two of Fixxer-Upper (don’t you judge me), I’m not one prone to “vegging out”. The mind is a terrible thing to waste. And platitudes like that. Anyway, with all of that being said, here are some thoughts about what I’ve been listening to and reading this week.

Reading

I’m am not the world’s fastest reader so I am continuing to make my way through Fyodor Dostoyevsky‘s The Brothers KaramazovI am thoroughly enjoying this book and can’t wait to watch the plot further unfold.

Not much on the reading front otherwise.

Listening

Esmerine: Lost Voices (‘Neighbourhoods Rise’ video): Last year, Esmerine (a project of Bruce Cawdron, formerly of God Speed You! Black Emperor and and Rebecca Foon formerly of Thee Silver Mt. Zion) released the haunting album Lost Voices. The group recently released a brilliant stop-motion video for the track “Neighbourhoods Rise”. Watch it here:


Esmerine "The Neighbourhoods Rise" from Constellation Records on Vimeo.

Mount Moriah: How To DanceOn the Chapel Hill band’s third outing, Mount Moriah owns its role as a roots band and it’s been worth the wait.  solid outing from a band who finally feels sure of themselves.

Sarah Neufeld: The Ridge: plays violin for a band called Arcade Fire. You may have heard of them? Those familiar with the instrumental side-project Bell Orchestre will find many familiar elements on Neufeld’s second solo outing. The Ridge features appearances by multi-instrumentalist Colin Stetson, with whom Neufeld has collaborated in the past, with great results. Stream The Ridge now at Wall Street Journal.

 

Reading and Listening

Alrighty there, cowgirls, cowboys and cowboy pups, here’s the lowdown on the downlow of what I’ve been reading and listening to this week.

Reading

Last week I read Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones . I picked it up because I love the movies of Hayao Miyazaki. Only after seeing his adaptation of Howl’s Moving Castle did I come to find out that it was a book first. I know, I know, I’m just not that up-to-date on the young adult fiction department. Anyways, let me tell you something; as much as I love Miyazaki’s artistic vision, he really butchered this book. Though he made a fine movie, it fails to capture the emotion and tenderness of Howls relationship with Sophie. Clichés often have their root in the truth and this is definitely a case of the book being better than the movie.

Last week I also started Fyodor Dostoyevsky‘s The Brothers KaramazovIn last week’s post, I made the confession that I have never read this classic work. And now I see why it’s considered a classic and I have to wonder why it took me so long to get around to. Perhaps I felt intimidated by the idea of dour Russian literature? Well that’s silly because it’s great so far. I can’t wait to continue making my way through this one. Oh, and I now realize where the band Ivan and Alyosha‘s name came from. Sort of like when I read Kurt Vonnegut‘s Slaughter-house Five and realized that Ramsay Midwood‘s album Popular Delusions & the Madness of Cows is an off-handed nod to the book Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds but not quite.

 

Listening

I’m really digging The Ghosts of Highway 20 by Lucinda Williams and jamming to Interludes For The Dead by Circles Around The Sun but otherwise not much new this week.

 

What are you reading and listening to?

the Weekly Town Crier

London's Town Crier copyDo you remember that time we were together at that place and we did that thing? Oh man! It was the bombdiggity.

Wait, you don’t remember it? Are you sure? It was bombalicious, yo.

You’re sure, because it was bombtastic. Truly and for reals.

No? Not ringing a bell?

Sorry, wrong number. Sorry to bother you. Perhaps I can offer you some online thought-provoking entertainment? I have collected some links. Why don’t you grab a container of your favorite beverage, put your feet up and peruse.

Buy my art here or here or contact me directly to purchase originals.

Visit our family blog: “The Thomas Ten.”

Browse Large Hearted Boy‘s list of “100 Online Sources for Free and Legal Music Downloads.”

Listen to a mix of some of my favorite songs released in 2015.

Browse my 42 favorite albums of 2015.

Download a three-volume mix of Jesusy songs I collected.

R.I.P. Dan Hicks.

R.I.P. Giant Sand.

Meet the 107-year-old’ man who’s “secret to a long life is four bottles of red wine a day”.

See some amazing “these Tiny Hand-painted Wes Anderson Sets”.

Read Rolling Stone‘s interview with Lucinda Williams in which she “Talks Meeting Dylan, Southern Identity, Shopping Online”.

Read Washington Post‘s piece: “A Stanford psychologist explains why spacing out and goofing off is so good for you”.

Read as The Guardian considers” “Villain or victim, Shakespeare’s Shylock is a character to celebrate”.

Browse “10 Paradoxical Traits of Creative People” at Fast Company.

Read about a rare, unreleased Rolling Stones album that was recently stolen.

Read as Warped Speed considers why having a beard is good for your health.

ReadWilliam S. Burroughs on Creativity” at Brain Pickings: “The price an artist pays for doing what he wants is that he has to do it.”

Take a Peek Inside Neil Gaiman‘s Library”.

Read/watch as The Chicago Tribune profiles a new documentary about John Prine.

Maybe movies should end whenever a character says the title out loud“.

Read as Slate wonders “Why Can’t Apple Figure Out Television?”

Meet the man who created Papyrus, the world’s second-most hated font.

Read about the “First U.S. Doctor Sentenced for Patient ODs”. “A California doctor was sentenced to 30 years in prison on murder charges Friday in connection with three overdose deaths from medication she prescribed.”

Read as The Guardian considers “From Berlin’s warehouses to London’s estates: how cities shape music scenes”.

Read about the priceless antique Martin guitar Kurt Russell smashed during the filming of Quentin Tarantino‘s Hateful Eight.

Read as “Andrew Zimmern Explains How to Acquire a Taste”.

Watch Wilco‘s Jeff Tweedy sing Stephen Colbert a lullaby.

Read as Inc. wonders: “Why Are Millennials So Unhappy at Work?”

Read: “Proust on What Art Does for the Soul and How to Stop Letting Habit Blunt Our Aliveness” at Brain Pickings.

Ever wonder “What happens to a tiny town when Walmart disappears?” Find out at The Washington Post.

Looking for a new career path? “Stone Temple Pilots Launch Open Audition for New Singer”.

Read as The New Yorker wonders if we’re maybe missing the point in our hatred of Martin Shkreli.

See “What $1 USD Gets You In Food All Around The World”.

Read “Relevant”‘s report: “The Pastor of China’s Largest Official Protestant Church Has Been Arrested”.

Read The Guardian‘s piece: “In 1971, librarian Marguerite Hart asked famous names in the arts, sciences and politics to write to the children of Troy, Michigan, encouraging them to cherish their new public library.”

Read Consequence of Sound‘s report: “Josh Brolin to star in George Jones biopic from Straight Outta Compton writer”.

Browse “America’s Largest Collection of Early Tavern Signs”.

Read “Relevant”‘s report: “Seal Will Play Pontius Pilate in Tyler Perry’s Televised Passion Play”.

Read Ars Technia‘s piece: “The NFL wants you to think these things are illegal”.

Watch the Harlem Globetrotters interrupt Jeff Tweedy at AV Club‘s offices.

Read as Glenn Danzig discusses his recent Portlandia appearance with Rolling Stone.

Learn “How to Read a Book a Week”.

Read Sojourner‘s piece: “Why I’m a Politically Correct Christian (And You Should Be Too)”

See David Bowie‘s art.

Watch a guitarist play “the World’s Last Playable Stradivarius Guitar”.

Read Stereogum‘s report that Belly are reuniting.

See “Gorgeous, Extremely Private Writing Retreats” at Flavorwire.

Read Paste‘s report that Beyoncé told Coldplay that she did not want to collaborate with them.

See the “Last Known Photos of Jim Morrison“.

Read as Alice Cooper reflects “on His Dinner With David Bowie and Ray Bradbury“.

Read Fact Magazine‘s report: “The Pirate Bay now streams torrents in your browser”.

Read AV Club‘s report that a Saved By The Bell-themed restaurant and bar is coming to Chicago.

Learn “How to Make Your Own Moonshine Still from Hardware Store Parts” at Man Made.

Read as Stephen King confirms rumors of a Dark Tower movie.

Read about the Titanic replica set to set sail.

Read Vinyl Factory‘s report that The Gap has now entered the vinyl market.

Read as Noisey considers which musicians have the most positive Twitter followers.

Read Kanye West‘s comments about his new album: “It’s Gospel with a Lot of Cursing”.

Read about the lifetime collection of 1000,000 records now up for sale.

Read reports that the eighth Harry Potter book is on its way.

Read as Peter Gabriel wonders what is the point of music at The Guardian.

Read Pitchfork‘s report that Bruce Springsteen is releasing an autobiography.

Read as “Justin Vernon: Bon Iver Is “No Longer Winding Down” at Stereogum.

Read about “Woodstock Organizers Exploring 50th Anniversary Concert”.