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 Prayer Of The Ugh-Churched

Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned against You in my heart and thoughts. I have grown discontent in my journey towards You. I love you still and seek You fervently. In fact, this love for You and desire to grow more like You has fanned the flames of frustration. I want more than church programs. I want the church to live like family. I want to be challenged to grow more dependent on You, not on gifted teachers. I want to be equipped rather than rely on someone else for my spiritual development and I want to be engaged rather than entertained.

Many Christians say they want “real” and “authentic” community but the very structures we adopt for the local church tend emphasize intellectual growth over relationships. We have classes to teach people how  to live in community but we don’t actually expect anyone to be in such a community. In fact, we’re a bit taken aback when we do see it.

When we say “doing life together”, it usually means superimposing some sort of academic study on to people who may or may not actually grow the most from academic study. We approach the Christian life as if we were simply disciplined enough, everything would be better. We academetize everything to the point that we discourage people who have no business being discouraged about following Jesus. It’s great if you can tell me the declentions of a Greek verb but I’d rather know you were trying to love those in your path as best you can. We make people who don’t like to read books read books other than the Bible so that they will understand the Bible better. And if they won’t even pretend to like to read to appease their leaders, they are deemed as somehow less spiritual and not “leader material”. We ask people to take time away from their families so we can tell them to love their families better. We ask people to meet with other Christians to learn how to talk to people who aren’t Christians. Really? Is this what it’s come to?

I’m sorry but if we can’t talk to our neighbor about everyday life, we’re not going to talk to them about Jesus. And if that’s the only think we ever talk to them about we’re just going to seem weird and they’re going to think that we view them as a project rather than a friend.

We use verses out of context to promote our own agendas like the (hopefully) well-intentioned pastor using Hebrews 10:25‘s admonition to not neglect gathering together with other believers to say that you have to be at every worship service (I’d be happy to elaborate on this at some point, but for now, I’ll say that I’m pretty sure that the writer to the Hebrews did not mean that we should attend a production once a week where we passively listen to a speaker tell us for 45 minutes how to live while a band urges us to sing along to their performance.). We draw lines in the sand that don’t need to be drawn and we call it “inerrancy” (the Bible was not given to tell us the age of the earth and to believe in an old earth does not mean not believing the rest of the Bible). We major on the minors and wrongly divide (I have not applied to several churches because they require someone who believes a Pre-Trib/Pre-Mil eschatology. Yes, I think eschatology is important. No, I don’t think this is something to divide over).

Father, protect me that my frustration does not sprout into bitterness. Surround me with people who want more.

Help us, Father to own our weaknesses rather than pretending they don’t exist. Help us to to find a better way forward instead of retreading the same well-intentioned but dead-end paths. Surround me with people who believe that the church is neither a building and who believe that worship is not an event and certainly not a performance. Lead me to people who believe that growth occurs primarily in community and understand that you can’t program real community. Lead me to people who believe that growing in discipleship is not necessarily the same thing as growing in knowledge about the Bible, though the two are often deeply intertwined.

Father, help us to move beyond cliché understandings of words like “authentic” and “organic”. Fill my heart with love and patience. Teach me as a leader to equip others rather than make them rely on me. Please deepen my own love, not only for You but for your your people. May I come to understand my faith, not as an add-on but as a marinade for life.

May my frustration be an instrument of healing for others. May I never lead out of opposition but from joyful obedience. May my love for you increase and may I become more dependent on You. Grant me wisdom, fill me with joy, lead me to serve and surround me with others who want the same.

Amen.

 

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.

 

An Introduction to the “Ugh-Churched”

ugh-shirtI am Ted Wiggins and I speak for the trees!

No, that’s not right. I am Brent Thomas and I speak for . . . well, I might not speak for anyone other than myself. However, I have the hunch that I speak for a growing number of Christians who are increasingly frustrated by American Christianity.

Discipleship is the primary task Jesus left His people (Matthew 28:18-20). This simply means helping ourselves and others become more like Jesus. This is the fundamental task of Christians and encompasses all of life including all of our relationships. We are publicly trying to live out the ways of Jesus and striving to help others (no matter where upon the faith journey they might currently find themselves) to see the beauty in doing so (This is different from evangelism. Evangelism is not a thing in and of itself but is a subset of discipleship. Maybe more on this later.).Many churches grasp this, using pithy, easy-to-remember phrases like: Make, Mature and Multiply (Disciples), or Gather, Grow, Go.

Few seem to argue the fact that the core of Christian Living is discipleship. Over the years, I’ve asked over a hundred people: How well do you think the American Church as a whole, has done at the fundamental task of Discipleship?

I have yet to have a single person tell me that “as a whole,” we’re rocking it. Several people have been able to point to specific times when they have been spiritually cared for and encouraged and seen significant growth but these cases seem to be the exception rather than the norm. No one has argued that, “as a whole,” we’re doing well. There was one guy who was adamant until I realized that he was arguing that Young Life did a great job of discipling, not the church.

93434191-einstein-tongue_custom-36fb0ce35776dc2d92eda90880022bf48a67e192-s6-c30And yet it seems like just about every church is doing the fundamentally the same things. You remember how Einstein defined insanity, don’t you? Doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results. That seems to be the current predicament for American Christianity. Sure, the flavor might change but nearly every church seems to have the basic, Sunday-driven, education-based, program-driven structures. Two or three songs, a sermon and some more songs. Some churches are showy-er about it than others. Some churches have different emphases within those parameters but nobody seems to question the basic. passive, education-based approach.

But there is a growing number of people who believe that the Christian life is more, not less than the modern church experience. Many people sincerely want to follow Jesus and find a divide between how we see that suggested in the New Testament and how it is largely practiced here in the United States of 2016. Drawing from researchers like Thom Rainer and others who discuss the “pre-churched,” the “de-churched,” the “un-churched,” etc., I have come to think of this group as the “ugh-churched”.

The “ugh-churched” as I understand them, are not abandoning their faith nor do they want to abandon church participation. Much ink has been spilled rebuking people who say that they love God but feel no need for church. These are not the ugh-churched. The ugh-churched, if I may speak for a category I’ve just made up, believe that the current model is lacking at best and broken at worst. The ugh-churched believe that so many modern churches rely on programs because real relationships simply don’t exist.

But it’s a catch-22, isn’t it? Many churches see the New Testament’s expectations that we will “bear one another’s burdens” (Galatians 6:1-2), that we will rejoice and weep together (Romans 12:15), that we will speak the truth to one another in love (Ephesians 4:25), that we will live as family and so we create programs in which these things are supposed to occur but these things do not occur in programs because programs are not relationships. People oftentimes don’t know how to have these types of relationships because they’ve been caught in programs. A growing number of people have become disillusioned with the current approach and long for Christianity to be lived out in the context of meaningful, challenging relationships. Though there’s lots to do in the American Church, it just doesn’t always seem worth the time and energy and many are left wanting more.

As my friend April recently said:

I’m at a point in my Christian faith where I don’t want to go to a church with a “tag line” or catchy mission statement. I’m so over it, like way way over it. I want to go to a church that really wants to be the Church and not some cool kids club, that strives to be relevant, or hip, or urban, or progressive, or liberal, or seeker sensitive, or “down to earth”. I’ve found that there’s a lot of flavor out there without a lot of substance (kinda like Doritos). Hoping God will bring us into a community of believers who want to do honest, raw, life together for the long haul. Keep our family in your prayers, and keep me in your prayers that God will show Himself to me in his people and that I would be encouraged.

The problem is that we’re left with cliché’s like “authentic”, “genuine” and “organic”. They sound great but have largely lost their meaning in the current church context because every church uses these terms but seems to mean something different by them and the result is has simply become a standardized approach to how we “do church”. This is why many of the ugh-churched feel increasingly disenfranchised from the American church; they want more, not less. They want substance over performance and they believe that following Jesus is about more than superficial slogans like “Win at Life”.

This means that we must stop doing church the way we’ve always done it. Far from being threatened by the ugh-churched, we should revel in the desire for deep and meaningful community faith. This is an exciting time for the American Church. We are faced with an identity crisis and we have reached a tipping point. How will we emerge? Will we embrace the growing desire for simplified schedules and deeper relationships or will we create another church program?

 

 

the Weekly Town Crier

London's Town Crier copyBlippity Bloppity Bloop. Sometimes there’s not much else to say. You know, you wrack your brain day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year until you’re just tired of wracking anything because even when you do it seems pretty dry.

Well, take what you can get and don’t whine about it. No one likes a whiner. It just makes you seem selfish and immature.

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. Senior U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia.

R.I.P. famed pusher of Dispensationalism, Charles Ryrie.

R.I.P. Police Academy and Punky Brewster star George Gaynes.

R.I.P. Don McClanen, Founder of Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

R.I.P. subscription streaming service Drip.

Read about the Chicago pizza place being sued by BMI over unauthorized use of music by Weezer and Red Hot Chili Peppers at a karaoke event.

Read a report claiming that “People Who Wear Crazy Socks Are Smart, Successful, And Revolutionary”.

Read as Mavis Staples wonders: “I often think what would have happened if I’d married Dylan’.

Read as “Relevant” reports: “New Study Shows Church-Going Couples Are Happier”.

Read as David Byrne writes about the rise of Donald Trump: “How Do Folks Continue to Ignore Facts?”

  • Read about the time David Byrne turned his personal library into a lending library.

Read Consequence of Sound‘s report: “Martin Shkreli offers to buy Kanye West’s new album for $10 million”.

Read about the Oregon Metalhead whose vest was stolen only to inexplicably appear three years later in a Macy’s display case on the other side of the country.

Read Techly‘s piece about what it’s really like to have a near-death experience.

Read as NPR considers “What Kids Need From Grown-Ups (But Aren’t Getting)”.

Read The Week‘s report: “Samsung warns customers not to discuss personal information in front of smart TVs”.

In honor of Valentine’s Day, browse various definitions of love.

Read Pitchfork‘s report: “Morrissey Appears in Supreme Ads, Swiftly Distances Himself From the Company”, stating: “This was before I learned that Supreme were sponsored in part by the beef sandwich pharaoh known as White Castle.”

Read The Washington Post‘s piece: “He wrote the definitive bio of the Replacements and got Paul Westerberg’s tooth.”

Read as Fact Magazine considers “Five reasons why SoundCloud might be doomed”.

Browse Christianity Today’s picks for “The Best Books to Read for Lent (That You Won’t Find in a Christian Bookstore)”.

Read Paste‘s report: “$160,000 Worth of Stolen Wisconsin Cheese Has Been Recovered”.

Read BBC‘s piece: “What does a psychologist think of Kanye West‘s Twitter feed?”

  • Read “Relevant”‘s report: “Kanye West Is Making a Video Game About Heaven”.
  • Read as Motherboard argues that Kanye West‘s new album The Life of Pablo is “the Death of Streaming Music as We Know it”.

Browse Motto‘s list of “35 Books Everyone Should Read in Their Lifetime”. What do you think of their picks?

Watch Ethan Hawke as Chet Baker in ‘Born to Be Blue’ Trailer’ at Rolling Stone.

Read as Cornel West asserts: “Beyoncé is no Aretha Franklin“.

Read Brain Picking‘s piece: “20-Year-Old Hunter S. Thompson’s Surprisingly Sage Advice on How to Find Your Purpose and Live a Meaningful Life”.

Read as Christianity Today considers “Why Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill Made Christian History in Cuba”.

Read as “Relevant” considers “Why All Christians Should Observe Lent”.

Learn why Alexander the Great told his men to shave their beards.

Read as James Gunn, the filmmaker behind Guardians of the Galaxy says: “Studios Shouldn’t Make All Superhero Movies Raunchy Because of Deadpools Success”.

Read as Washington Post considers “What happens when a Supreme Court justice dies in an election year?”

Read Ernest Hemingway‘s Nobel acceptance speech: “Writing, at its best, is a lonely life.”

See “Poetic Photos of Batman in Abandoned Places”.

Browse NME‘s list of “28 Boring Day Jobs Musicians Did Before They Were Famous”.

Read Taste of Cinema‘s list of “12 Reasons To Make You Love The Films Of Wes Anderson“.

Read as The Washington Post‘s report about the man who “didn’t report to work for six years, and no one noticed until he won an award”.

See the Romanian town drowning in toxic waste.

Watch a new music video for Daniel Lanois and Rocco DeLuca‘s track “The Resonant Frequency of Love”.

Read Vogue‘s interview with Lucinda Williams on the release of her brilliant new album The Ghosts of Highway 20.

Browse Thought Catalog‘s list of “40 Words For Emotions You’ve Felt, But Couldn’t Explain”.

Browse amazing portraits of homeless people.

Read The AV Club‘s piece: “The Coen brothers keep making the same film twice—and it’s brilliant”.

Read about the recent study finding: “Science says lasting relationships come down to—you guessed it—kindness and generosity.”

Read The New Yorker‘s piece on one of my favorite bands: “Wilco’s Music for Adulthood”.

Read The Washington Post‘s piece: “The Friends’ reboot is never going to happen: That show is about a time in your life when your friends are your family. Once you start having a family, that time of your life is over.”

Read Vinyl Factory‘s report: “New Vinyl Jukebox Created For The First Time In Nearly Two Decades”.

Read “Relevant’s report that Whole Foods will begin offering vinyl and tattoos.

Read as The Atlantic considers “How Writers Can Grow by Pretending to Be Other People”.

See “What different novels look like with everything removed but punctuation”.

Read about “The shocking science of sword swallowing”.

Read Pitchfork‘s report that David Bowie turned down a collaboration with the Foo Fighters.

Read the report that NPR Music’s Bob Boilen will be featured on The Simpsons.

Browse Fact Magazine‘s picks for “The 50 best trip-hop albums of all time”.

Read The Washington Post‘s piece: “There’s no real link between immigration and terrorism, study finds”.

Read about the husband who planted “thousands of flowers for two years to make his blind wife smile again.”

Read Boing Boing‘s piece: “American Airlines is suing Gogo over its crappy Wi-Fi”.

Read as Ed Stetzer argues: “Expository preaching is the best, but not a biblically mandated, preaching approach” at Christianity Today.

Read Tiny Mix Tapes‘ report: “YouTube purchases BandPage for artists to sell merchandise”.

How do you pick between Russian River, Allagasah or Dogfish Head breweries? The fine folks over the James Beard awards will have to do just that for this year’s “Outstanding Wine, Spirits, or Beer Professional” category.

Read Rolling Stone‘s report: “Spotify Moves to Stop $150 Million Class Action Lawsuit” initiated by Camper Van Beethoven/Cracker‘s David Lowery.

Read as Vanity Fair considers “How Randy Newman and His Family Have Shaped Movie Music for Generations”.

Browse Time‘s list of “23 Books Everyone Should Read, According to Mark Zuckerberg”.

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”.

Reading and Listening

Screen Shot 2016-02-12 at 6.41.46 AMOnce again I’ve got several updates for y’all’s perusing pleasure. A couple of new books, especially since Wilde’s “The Soul Of Man Under Socialism” isn’t so much a book as an essay. Nevertheless, if you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it.

Anyways, here’s what’s new this week:

Reading:

Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones 

I’m a big fan of Hayao Miyazaki‘s movies and that includes his adaptation of Howl’s Moving Castle. However, as good as Miyazaki can be, I’m a firm believer that the book is usually better. I guess we’ll find out, won’t we?

The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

OK. I have a confession to make. I have never read this book even though it has come widely recommended by just about everyone I respect. Better late than never, right?

 

Listening:

Banshee by the Cave Singers

OK, so I’m actually just anticipating this one since it won’t be released for another week or so. But I am looking forward to the Pacific Northwest band’s fifth album.

Night Fiction by Cian Nugent

Three years after Born With the Caul, Nugent ditches the Cosmos and the purely instrumental approach. It can sometimes rightly give listeners pause when an instrumental artist decides to add vocals. It just doesn’t always work, especially when the artist in question wants to not only sing themselves but be a “singer-songwriter”. Thank goodness Nugent found a way to smoothly make the transition.

 

Reading and Listening

Screen Shot 2016-02-05 at 10.44.02 PMHere’s what’s new for the ol’ book holes in the front of my head and music holes in the sides of my head. What are you putting in to your head and why?

Let’s start with the holdovers from the last update:

Reading:

I’m still reading Edward Abbey’s excellent  Desert Solitaire. No reason that it’s a holdover other than life getting in the way of me reading as much as I’d like.

Music:

It may not be their best material, but I’m still holding on to Massive Attack’s Ritual Spirit EP. Though maybe not a complete return to form, it’s exciting to hear the group building on without rehashing the formulas that have made them so great in the first place.

And, now on to WHAT’S NEW:

Reading:

The Soul Of Man Under Socialism by Oscar Wilde.

I am not a Socialist but as a Christian, I am fascinated by any system that strives for fairness and equality. Unfortunately, that is often not socialism, as Wilde points out, with particular care to notice the system’s impact on artists. I have read this piece in the past but picked it up again with the rise of Bernie Sanders and some recent conversation with friends.

Music:

Off The Beaten Track by African Head Charge

Originally released in 1985 and recently reissued along with the group’s other first three releases. Fusing dub, afro, reggae, punk, funk and the kitchen sink, this is Adrian Sherwood set loose. Maybe not as immediately accessible as some of his solo material, Off The Beaten Track is my recommendation for an entry-point into the sometimes confusing world of African Head Charge. Glad to see this finally garnering some long overdue attention.

Old Factory EP by Chris Bathgate

What? New music from Chris Bathgate?! Yes, please. Here he is performing “Big Ghost” at an Habañero Collective house show in 2011:

Interludes For The Dead by Circles Around The Sun

Never intended as an album release, these two hours of music (including several 20-minute or more instrumental jams) came together when Justin Kreutzmann commissioned Neal Casal for five hours of music to accompany the intermission visuals of the Fare Thee Well mini tour. The music was such a hit that it was winnowed down to around two hours for commercial release. Challenged with the task of referencing, even revering but not mimicking the Dead, Neal Casal and his band definitely deliver.

Thought Rock Fish Scale by Nap Eyes

Sleepy indie rock fronted by a guy who sounds a lot like Lou Reed but in a good way. Paradise of Bachelors continues it’s winning streak.

The Ghosts of Highway 20 by Lucinda Williams

Though Ghosts may not greatly expand Williams’ sonic world, it certainly doesn’t disappoint.