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.

 

the Weekly Town Crier

London's Town Crier copyWell, hello. How are you? How have you been? How you be? How is your present state of being? How’s your week been? Ups? Downs? In-betweens? What’s the dilly, yo? The haps? The lowdown? The upside? The downlow? How’s your soul?

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 the year.

R.I.P. Jimmy Bain, Bassist for Dio and Rainbow.

R.I.P. Barney Miller’s Abe Vigoda.

R.I.P. Concepcion Picciotto, the woman who kept a peace vigil going for 30 years.

R.I.P. Jefferson Airplane co-founder Paul Kantner.

Read as Iggy Pop remembers David Bowie.

Read as “Relevant” wonders “Why Are So Many Christians Scared of Nonviolence?”

Browse So Bad So Good‘s list of “The 15 Most Expensive Artwork’s Ever Purchased”.

Have you ever wondered “Why We Picture Bombs As Round Black Balls With A Burning Wick”?

Browse “Relevant”‘s picks for “5 Movies that Should Have Been Nominated for Best Picture”.

Read/Listen as The Frame interviews “Mavis Staples on her famous family, her new album, and her former suitor, Bob Dylan“.

Read Autre‘s interview with Daniel Lanois.

Read Fact Magazine‘s report: “Wu-Tang Clan Martin Shkreli considering destroying one-of-a-kind Wu-Tang album”.

  • Watch as Martin Shkreli disses, threatens to erase Ghostface Killah from the Wu-Tang album.

Read Paste‘s interview with Tortoise‘s Doug McCombs.

Read as The Washington Post wonders: “Are smarter people actually less racist?”

Read at Brain Pickings: “Are Writers Born or Made? Jack Kerouac on the Crucial Difference Between Talent and Genius”.

Read comicbook.com‘s report that the Delorean is going back in to production.

Read as CNN offers “3 questions evangelicals should ask about Donald Trump”.

Read as Paste tastes Dave Matthews‘ wine.

Read as Henry Rollins says “‘Our species is a ruinous pain in the ass’.

Read about the advice columnist who fell for a Seinfeld plot.

Relive Bob Dylan’s Legendary Rolling Thunder Revue With Rare Photos” at Rolling Stone.

Browse a “Photographic Love Letter” to libraries, “Humanity’s Greatest Sanctuary of Knowledge, Freedom, and Democracy”.

Watch a robot solve a Rubik’s Cube in 1 second.

Read Fact Magazine‘s report on the rise of heavy metal’s popularity in Africa.

Read comicbook.com‘s report: “DC Comics To Reboot Scooby-Doo, The Flintstones, & More Hanna-Barbera Characters”

Browse NME‘s list of 22 “one album wonders”.

Browse Quartz‘ list of “the books students at the top US colleges are required to read”.

Read Consequence of Sound‘s report: “Napoleon Dynamite director to unite Rugrats, Doug, Ren & Stimpy in NickToons crossover film”.

Read AV Club‘s report that Circuit City is returning.

See “How The Iowa Democratic Caucus Works, Featuring Legos”.

Read about the “Phoenix-area bar” facing “$90K suit for illegally playing music”.

Read as The New York Times argues: “Touring Can’t Save Musicians in the Age of Spotify”.

Read about people “Retrofitting Old iPods to Keep the Perfect MP3 Player Alive”.

Read AV Club‘s report: ““Weird Al” Yankovic joins Comedy Bang! Bang! as bandleader and co-host”.

Read Washington Post‘s report: “People keep going to this home looking for their lost phones — and nobody knows why”.

Read as Science Friday wonders: “Does Apple Deserve Its Reputation for Good Design?”.

Read about “The Secret to Carrie Brownstein’s Creativity”.

Read Smithsonian‘s piece: “Fairy Tales Could Be Older Than You Ever Imagined”.

Browse as Newsweek considers “Five Reasons Apple Is Ditching The Headphone Jack For the iPhone 7.”

Read/Listen to Aquarium Drunkard‘s piece: “Bob Dylan: Blood On The Tracks – The New York Sessions”.

Read as PRI argues: “Why you should savor the under-appreciated beauty of the American short story”.

Read as Quartz considers: “It’s possible that there is a “mirror universe” where time moves backwards, say scientists”.

See one artist’s recreation of Ferris Bueller‘s room.

Read Newsweek‘s report: “Streaming Is Killing Great Music In Favor of Familiar Formulas”.

Read AV Club‘s report that Larry David will host Saturday Night Live.

See NME‘s piece: “It Turns Out Adele’s Face Fits Perfectly Onto Every Album Cover Ever”.

Read as Ars Technica compares Apple’s Carplay against Android Auto.

Read Fast Company‘s report: “Google Is Offering A Free Online Class About Deep Learning”.

Read Flavorwire‘s report that David Bowie planned the release of several anthology albums, still to be released after his death.

ReadMaurice Sendak on Storytelling, Creativity, and the Eternal Child in Each of Us” at Brain Pickings.

Browse “21 of the Most Tragic and Cringeworthy Christian Music Covers You’ll Ever See”.

Read Brain Picking‘s piece: “Kandinsky on the Spiritual Element in Art and the Three Responsibilities of Artists”.

Read as Zygmunt Bauman says: “Social media are a trap”.

the Weekly Town Crier

London's Town Crier copySometimes I just don’t know, man. I mean it all just seems like so much already, doesn’t it? I know that it weighs you down. I know it can feel like a beatdown. Some days it feels like the clouds will never lift.

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 the year.

Read as Noisey considers “Why Fugazi‘s Politics Are As Frighteningly Relevant Today As They Were In 1988″.

Read as The Guardian considers David Bowie‘s literary influences.

  • Read FACT Magazine‘s report that Bowie is being honored with a constellation.
  • Read as Noisey considers Bowie’s influence on Hip Hop.
  • Read Billboard‘s report that Blackstar is Bowie’s first Number one album.
  • Watch Fred Armisen pay tribute to David Bowie on Saturday Night Live.
  • Read Consequence of Sound‘s report that a Labyrinth reboot is in the works.

Read Okay Player’s report: “Yasiin Bey (Mos Def) Arrested In Cape Town”.

Read as Brain Pickings considers “The Psychology of What Makes a Great Story”.

Read as George Orwell considers “the Four Questions a Great Writer Must Ask Herself”.

Read reports that “Target Will Soon Let You Drink Alcohol While You Shop”.

Read one music fan’s account of why they protested a Viet Cong concert over the band’s name.

Read as The Atlantic considers “How Sleep Deprivation Decays the Mind and Body”.

HearWendell Berry on How to Be a Poet”.

R.I.P. Glenn Frey of the Eagles.

R.I.P. drummer for Mott the Hoople, Dale ‘Buffin’ Griffin.

Read as The Daily Beast considers the rise and fall of Eddie Murphy: “In the ’80s the Beverly Hills Cop star was as hot as it got in Hollywood, and somehow everything went sour.”

See photographs of early Apple prototypes.

Read as Ars Technica spent one week with Apples CarPlay.

Watch Arcade Fire & Preservation Hall Jazz Band’s Second Line For David Bowie” at Stereogum.

Hear as “Ray Bradbury Reads His Poem “If Only We Had Taller Been” in a Rare 1971 Recording”.

Read AV Club‘s report that Steven Moffat is leaving Doctor Who.

Read Newsweek‘s report that Elon Musk’s “hyperloop” could be ready by 2018.

Hear David Foster Wallace‘s famous Kenyon College address.

Read as Amin Maalouf considers “How to Disagree”.

BrowseHenry Miller’s 11 Commandments of Writing and Daily Creative Routine”.

Read as The Atlantic considers “The Racially Fraught History of the American Beard”.

Read as The Daily Beast wonders “Can Whiskey Cure Your Common Cold?”

Read this report that half of all money spent on music in 2015 went to live concerts.

Read Consequence of Sound‘s report: “Neil Patrick Harris to star in Netflix’s adaptation of A Series of Unfortunate Events“.

Read as Salon argues: We spend more time and money on parenting than ever — but we are getting worse”.

Read as Jim Wallis argues: “White Christians need to act more Christian than white: White evangelicals need to repent for how we’ve enabled racism.”

Read Stereogum‘s report that HBO’s new series Vinyl features new songs from Iggy Pop, Chris Cornell and a theme song written by Sturgill Simpson.

Read People Magazine’s report that Girl Meets World‘s Rowan Blanchard has self-identified as “queer”.

Browse the list for the 2016 Penderyn Music Book Prize.

Buy a Drake coloring book.

Read Consequence of Sound‘s report: “Netflix is developing a new animated series from Simpsons creator Matt Groening.”

Read Smithsonian‘s report: “The Odds in a Coin Flip Aren’t Quite 50/50”.

Read PRI‘s report: “Your paper brain and your Kindle brain aren’t the same thing”.

Read “Relevant”‘s piece: “Why the Church Should Support #BlackLivesMatter”.

Read as the New York Times considers “The Eight-Second Attention Span”.

Read as SciTechNow wonders if there really is such a thing as Introversion.

He Shines In All That’s Fair (A Three-Volume Music Mix)

He Shines3

Who else could bring together this kind of who’s who of musicians?I mean, come on. Think about some of the artists included in this mix:

And that just scratches the surface. As I’ve said, I’m not trying to read anything in to the heart-motivation of any of these artists. But I will say that each song here has meant something important to me in the years of my own faith journey. I hope you enjoy.

  • Read about the background to the mixes here.

Screen Shot 2016-01-16 at 4.23.26 PM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

He Shines In All That’s Fair (01)

  1. Something Beautiful by Sinead O’Connor
  2. Nobody Knows My Name by Rickie Lee Jones
  3. ’40’ by U2
  4. Amazing Grace by Ani DiFranco
  5. The Truth Is A Cave by the Oh Hellos
  6. Thank You by Glen Phillips
  7. His Truth Is Marching On by Mike Doughty
  8. Jesus Gonna Build Me A Home by John Davis
  9. Please Come Home by Dustin Kensrue
  10. Whiskey & Jesus by Owl Parliament
  11. Jesus Shot Me In The Head by Hiss Golden Messenger
  12. You Give It All Your Heart (Live Parable Version) by Vigilantes of Love

 

Screen Shot 2016-01-16 at 4.34.15 PM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

He Shines In All That’s Fair (02)

  1. On My Knees by Seryn
  2. Amazing Grace by Daniel Lanois
  3. Walking With Jesus by Spacemen 3
  4. 100th Psalm by All Saved Freak Band
  5. Jesus Is Just Alright by Doobie Brothers
  6. I Was Healed By The Wounds In His Side by Sister Gertrude Morgan
  7. Jesus Gonna Be Here by Tom Waits
  8. Saved by Bob Dylan
  9. To Make A Ring by Wovenhand
  10. Higher Power by Ramsay Midwood
  11. Tree of Life by Wilson McKinley
  12. Spirit In The Sky by Norman Greenbaum
  13. Brazos by Matthew E. White

Screen Shot 2016-01-16 at 4.40.13 PM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

He Shines In All That’s Fair (03)

  1. People Get Ready by Imperial Golden Crown Harmonizers
  2. Jaya Dev by Aradhna
  3. Though I Have Wronged You by J. Tillman
  4. King of Carrot Flowers Part 2 & 3 by Neutral Milk Hotel
  5. After Forever by Black Sabbath
  6. Amazing Grace by Cat Power and Dirty Delta Blues
  7. Satan, Your Kingdom Must Come Down by Uncle Tupelo
  8. Jesus Walking On The Water by Violent Femmes
  9. God’s Gonna Cut You Down by Johnny Cash
  10. I See Satan Fall Like Lightning by Doug Burr
  11. I Still Believe (Great Designby The Call
  12. The Transfiguration  by Sufjan Stevens
  13. Every Grain of Sand by Emmylou Harris
  14. Doxology by Kelly Joe Phelps

 

He Shines In All That’s Fair: Thoughts On Common Grace, Creativity and Introducing My Music Mix

He Shines3The doctrine of common grace, like many doctrines, can be a contentious one. The basic issue centers around whether or not God is “pleased” by the actions and creations of those not numbered among His people? Because, Christians are in the continual process of aligning themselves, including what we do/can and can not take pleasure in consuming.

While the issue at hand may not seem immediately apparent to those unconcerned with pleasing God in everyday life, the issue may be summarized as something like this:

Christians understand sin to be the heart of idolatry and includes anything antithetical to God’s character. It is, by definition opposed to God since we believe that He is the sole source of all our hearts seek. So to look for fulfillment, security, joy, etc. outside of Him is in fact, opposing Him. It is a question of the posture of one’s heart.

Christians are thus left in the perpexing situation of what to do with anything not done from a heart’s posture to bring glory to God since it is thusly, in some way opposed to God?

Or is it?

What about things that in and of themselves might be benign? Moreso, what about things that somehow point to God’s character, even if they creator doesn’t know it or intend it? Music? Art? movies? Books? Poems? The very creative process remind us of a God who brings order from the chaos and flowers from the ashes. But what if the creator isn’t thinking of this or might even be opposed to such a worldview? Can Christians take pleasure in art made by n0n-or-even-anti-Christians?

As Richard Mouw summarizes the situation in his book He Shines In All That’s Fair: Culture and Common Grace:

How do we take with utmost seriousness the need to be clear about the lines between belief and unbelief, between those who live within the boundaries of saving grace and those who do not, while at the same time maintaining an openness to – even an active appreciation for – all that is good and beautiful and true that takes place outside of those boundaries?

While some in my own past theological streams argue that the doctrine of “common grace” is not appropriate, Mouw and others have come to believe that it is not only acceptable but appropriate for Christians to celebrate beauty and cultivate creativity. Wondering at a painting, being swept up in a piece of music, moved by a string of words or ideas, marveling at a sunset, hiking a mountain, smelling hops, tasting coffee, laughing, singing, crying, these are glimpses of God’s grace. They remind us of His goodness, of His character.

For many well-intentioned Christians, the fact that such glimpses are not sufficient to bring someone to salvation, they are not worth our while at all. Or more severely, they should be condemned. How else could someone come to believe that burning music albums brings glory to God more the creative process they contain?

I’m not making light of the struggle many Christians face as they try to align their consciences with God’s character as they choose what to watch, read or listen to. I’m simply trying to make sense of how we’ve come to a place where “American Christianity” rejects so much artistic expression without creating anything worthwhile of our own?

Do we believe that the terrific painting by a non-Christian somehow less valued by God than the horrible painting by a Christian simply because of the intent of the heart? Is there not inherent value in both? The value may be perceived differently by the eyes of faith but the eyes of most people would rather look at a great painting than a bad one (now is not the time to enter into the subjective nature of much art).

This may seem like a rather nebulous rambling (even for me), especially since I’m not here today to really look for answers to many of these questions. I’m simply giving you a context for the three-volume mix album that I’ve come up with. All of these questions and more have been rattling around my head for years, especially as I listen to music. Which I do. A lot. So over the years, I have kept various private playlists of songs which have presented me with an unexpected glimpse of God. A bit of grace in the everyday. Not every song explicitly mentions Jesus.

Some songs are by Christians. Some songs are meant as worship. Some songs are meant as evangelism. Some songs are by more skilled musicians than others. But, not every song here is even by someone who would claim to be a Christian. Some have said these songs are not even about Jesus (though they don’t mind them interpreted as such.). Not every song is to be understood as a theological statement or even representative of my own personal beliefs regarding God (specifically Jesus). And, please be forewarned, there is at least one “F-Bomb” for those sensitive to such things.

But over the years, every song here has, at some point, reminded me of, encouraged me on or challenged me in my own journey of following Jesus.

the Weekly Town Crier

London's Town Crier copySometimes you have to make choices in life. Sometimes you even have to make difficult choices. Like what to do with your time. I mean, come on, there’s only so much time in the day and you have to be careful how you spend it

That’s where the Weekly Town Crier comes in. There’s no longer any reason for you wander aimlessly through the nameless paths of the Interwebs. I collect links of varying degrees of interest and you show your interest by clicking on them and reading them and thinking about them and then next week we do it all over again.

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 the year.

Ever wonder how to read more books?

Read as The Atlantic considers “Why the British Tell Better Children’s Stories”.

Read about the push to rename a Jack and Coke to a “Lemmy”.

Read about the recent study finding that $9.99 is too much for most people to pay for streaming music.

R.I.P. country music legend Red Simpson.

R.I.P. David Bowie.

  • Read Pitchfork‘s report that Bowie was planning another album.
  • Read as Gregory Alan Thornbury wonders “What do we learn from the complicated legacy of a beloved icon?” for Christianity Today.
  • Read as Iggy Pop shares his Bowie memories.

R.I.P. Alan Rickman.

Read as “Relevant” argues that people should stop expecting churches to “feed” them.

Read as Time explores rumors that Apple will include wireless earbuds with the next iPhone.

Read as Flavorwire considers rumors that the next season of Arrested Development will be a serialized murder mystery.

Read as Quartz reports: “Philosophers want to know why physicists believe theories they can’t prove”.

Read as Outside magazine considers our “Chris McCandless Obsession Problem”.

Read about Metallica apologizing to a Metallica cover band about the “Cease and Desist” letter they received from an “overzealous attorney”.

See “what America would look like without gerrymandering” at The Washington Post.

Meet the “Super 8″ Camera Designed for Internet Kids” at the Creators Project.

Read/watch as CNN considers “Why Adult Coloring Books Are So Good For You”.

Read Paste magazines report of an all-star Blind Willie Johnson tribute including Tom Waits, Lucinda Williams and others.

Browse the complete Netflix genre list.

Read Salon‘s report: “Donald Trump talks at a fourth-grade level.”

Read about the recent study conducted by Spotify about Spotify playlists finding that Blink-182 is the second-most “punk” band, after Green Day.

Hear “The Only Surviving Recording of Virginia Woolf’s Voice” from 1937.

Read “Galileo on Why We Read and How Books Give Us Superhuman Powers” at Brain Pickings.

Browse a collection of “Ridiculously Outdated Mobile Phones in Movies” at Flavorwire.

Read Comicbook.com‘s report: “Kevin Smith To Direct An Episode of The Flash“.

Read as “Dave Grohl, Slash, Metallica, more share their fondest memories of Lemmy at Motörhead frontman’s funeral”.

Read as “Relevant” considers what many Christians “Get Wrong About ‘In the World, Not of the World’.

SeeThe Raven: Lou Reed’s Adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe, Illustrated by Italian Artist Lorenzo Mattotti” at Brain Pickings.

Read at the Atlantic about the 2016 Oscar nominations having been announced.

Read Stereogum‘s report that SoundCloud is launching a paid subscription service.

Read as The Creators Project considers how “Apple Wants to Teach You How to Get the Most Out of Your Phone”.

Hear A Song From Violent Femmes‘ First Album In 15 Years” at NPR.

Watch Adele sing, talk, and rap in a car ride with James Corden.

Read as The Federalist considers “Why Jaded Adults Are Buying Stacks of Coloring Books”.

the Weekly Town Crier

London's Town Crier copyAnd there you have it. Not just another week gone by but another year. When we’re faced with the daunting question of what we’ve done with life over the past year. Well? What have you?

Maybe it’s just better to focus on links of varying degrees of interest. Click the ones that interest you. Ignore the ones that don’t. And do better this coming year than you did with the last.

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 the year.

See the Japanese bookstore that stocks only one book at a time.

Consider the “Life Cycle of a Punk Band”.

Read Stereogum‘s report that Columbia House is relaunching with vinyl.

Read as one Christian military veteran explains: “Why I’m Not a Conscientious Objector”.

Ever wonder “Why hipsters all look alike”?

Read as Time considers “Big Beer’s 5-Point Plan to Crush the Craft Beer Revolution”.

Read as Flavorwire stereotypes “You by Your Favorite Album of 2015”.

Read/listen to Here and Now‘s piece: “The Vietnam War Divided The Country, But Music United The Troops”, examining the book We Gotta Get Out of This Place: The Soundtrack of the Vietnam War.

Read as FACT considers: “Inside album leaks: how do they happen, how do we stop them, and do they even matter?”

Read as The Atlantic considers “Dorms for Grownups: A Solution for Lonely Millennials?”

Read Noisey‘s report: “The Founder of the Pirate Bay Plans to ‘Bankrupt’ the Music Industry With His New Art Project”.

Read as “Henry Rollins says Donald Trump is ‘just a bored rich guy being crass’.

Read as The Atlantic goes “In Defense of Gentrification”.

Read as The New York Times considers “Our Misplaced Nostalgia for Cassette Tapes”.

Read as The Daily Beast wonders: “Why Did Joss Stone Sell More Reggae Albums Than Any Black Artist in 2015?”

Read The Washington Post‘s piece: “Biblical birth narratives are weird and incredible. We can stop sanitizing them.”

Read as The New Yorker considers “How Amazon’s Bookstore Soothes Our Anxieties About Technology”.

Read Inc‘s piece: “8 Words That Totally Reveal You Are Not a Millennial.” Bummer, I totally saw “awesome”.

Read as FACT wonders “What the hell is going on with SoundCloud?”

See “The world’s most beautiful churches”.

Read about how “How Charles Dickens Secularized Christmas Forever”.

Read about the “small Japanese village claims to be the final resting place of the son of God (and God’s other son’s ear)”.

Read as Ozy argues that we should hire more “hipster” cops.

Read as Consequence of Sound considers: “The lyrics of recent No. 1 singles average at a third grade reading level.”

Watch The Atlantic‘s piece: “Creative Ideas Happen When You Stop Checking Your Phone”.

Read as Pitchfork considers “The Genius And Jazz of Charlie Brown Christmas“.

Read Fast Company‘s piece: “Teens Love The Modern World, While Thirtysomethings Are Getting More And More Sad About It”.

Browse Time‘s list of “10 Small Things You Can Do Every Day to Get Smarter”.

Read The Atlantic‘s piece: “Finish That Book! You suffer when you quit a story midway through—and so does literature.”

What’s up with “Sweden’s bizarre tradition of watching Donald Duck cartoons on Christmas Eve”?

Do you know “Why Japan is Obsessed with Kentucky Fried Chicken on Christmas”?

Did you know about “The beautiful Icelandic tradition of giving books on Christmas Eve”?

Read as NPR wonders “Are You A Sucker If You Like Mast Brothers Chocolate?”

Read about “The Science Behind Making the Perfect Cup of Coffee”.

Read as The Atlantic considers “The Challenge of Jihadi Cool”.

Read President Jimmy Carter‘s recent piece: “Losing my religion for equality”.

Browse as NME considers “The 10 Most Pretentious Albums Ever”.

Read as Slate considers the downside of binge-watching your favorite TV shows.

Read as The New York Times warns: “Screen Addiction Is Taking a Toll on Children”.

Read as Ozy considers “Jesus Christ, Marketing Genius?”

Read The Atlantic‘s piece: “Optimism Is the Enemy of Action”.

Read as Cracked considers “The Secret True History Of ‘Jingle Bells, Batman Smells’.

Read as Smithsonian reports that many craft breweries are facing an aluminum shortage for cans.

Read Fast Company‘s piece: “The Untold Story Of The Invention of the Game Cartridge”.

Read Consequence of Sound‘s report: “FOX News says Kendrick Lamar “has done more damage to young African-Americans than racism”.

See very cool jellyfish lamps.

Read as The Chicago Tribune makes a case for “The quiet impact of Obama’s Christian faith”.

Read as The Atlantic strives “Toward a New Understanding of Modesty”.

Read as Newsweek wonders: “Why Did So Many Good Pop Culture Sites Die In 2015?”

Read as Ozy suggests that you really can die from a broken heart.

Read as The Guardian reports: “Ireland becomes first country to legalise gay marriage by popular vote”.

See “Earth as Art: photos of earth from space look like abstract paintings”.

Read as Ozy wonders: “Is Free Will Just A Mind Trick”?

Read as The Guardian considers: “Print survives as a new literature is born”.

Read The Washington Post‘s piece: “In the age of Amazon, used bookstores are making an unlikely comeback”.

Read as Consequence of Sound reports: “Motörhead frontman Lemmy has switched from whiskey to vodka for health reasons”.

  • R.I.PMotörhead frontman, Lemmy Kilmister. Unfortunately, the switch from whiskey to vodka couldn’t do much in the fight against cancer.
  • Read as Motörhead drummer, Mikkey Dee says: ‘Motörhead Is Over, Of Course’.
  • Read about how How Lemmy and Motörhead Gave Metal Its Umlaut.
  • Read as Henry Rollins says: “You Can’t Tell The Story of Rock & Roll Without Lemmy”.
  • Read as Consequence of Sound considers “Why Losing Lemmy Hurts So Much”.

R.I.P. Harlem Globetrotter Meadowlark Lemon.

R.I.P. John Bradbury, drummer for The Specials.

Read as Adweek argues: “Why The Beatles Needed Digital Streaming to Maintain Their Brand.”

Read as Bill Moyers (well, actually someone else writing at Bill Moyers’ site) wonders if we’re “hard-wired” to be liberal or conservative.

See the amazing woodcut that took over three years to complete.

Read AV Club‘s “oral history of “Weird Al” Yankovic’s cult classic,” UHF.

Read as Christianity Today considers “Tarantino‘s Incarnational Aesthetic”.

Read about the “Man Has Nothing to Hide—Not Even His Email Password”.

Browse as Stereogum makes their picks for “The 101 Most Anticipated Albums Of 2016”.

Read as The Atlantic defends Amazon one-star reviews: “Honest and unbiased reviews allow customers to trust that they can shop with confidence.”

See the 14-story building that houses the entire population of its city.

Read as “Colbert Explains Exactly How His Interviewing Style Has Changed Since The Colbert Report.”

Read AV Club‘s list of “22 songs that are great despite being pro-Jesus”.

Read as The Atlantic considers: “Middle-Aged White Americans Are Dying of Despair”.

Read as “Will Smith Discusses the Role Christianity Played in ‘Concussion’ at “Relevant”.

Read as Fact Magazine considers: “Pop has an authenticity problem: there’s too much of it around”.

Read as Consequence of Sound considers not just the restaurantification of CBGB: “It gets worse: CBGB branded baby onesies and umbrellas coming soon.”

Watch the 21-minute X-Files re-boot preview.

Ever wonder “Why It’s Hard to Poop On Vacation”?

Read as BBC News considers “the Jelly Baby’s dark past.”

Read as AV Club goes “In praise of artistic theft” by pointing out: “Tom Petty knows what many don’t—that appropriation and originality can’t be separated”.

Read as The Atlantic argues: “America: Abandon Your Reverence for the Bachelor’s Degree”.

Read as The New Yorker argues: “Donald Trump Isn’t a Fascist; He’s a Media-Savvy Know-Nothing”.

Browse Hypebeast’s list of “The 10 Most Pirated TV Shows of 2015”.

Read as AV Club considers the continuing allure of The Warriors: “Greek and literary roots give the cult movie its addictive blend of swagger and mythology”.

Read as Slate wonders “Why are so many drug anthems sneaking their way onto the radio?” as if drug culture were something new.

Read as Tiny Mix Tapes wonders: “”Is information stifling design? Is design stifling art? And the biggest question: How does the production and consumption of music alter the world?”

See the “Winners of the 2015 National Geographic Photo Contest”.

Hear audio from the first ever concrete record“.

Read as Fast Company considers: How Apple Is Giving Design A Bad Name For years, Apple followed user-centered design principles. Then something went wrong.”

Read Stereogum‘s report that Camper Van Beethoven and Cracker frontman “David Lowery Sues Spotify For $150 Million”.

Read Aquarium Drunkard‘s interview with  Jim O’Rourke.

See “Vertical Panoramic Photographs of New York Churches by Richard Silver”.

Read Fast Company’s report: “MIT’s New 3-D Printer Uses Molten Glass As A Medium”.

Read as The Atlantic considers “Why the 9-to-5 Day Is So Tough on Creative Workers”.

Browse Pragues unofficial Apple museum.

Read about “How Pantone Became a Global Authority on Color”.

Browse Paste‘s picks for “The 8 Best Breweries of 2015’.

Read as BBC News considers “How the craft beer revolution started”.

Read about “The Psychology Behind Costco’s Free Samples”.

Read as Pitchfork considers “What Your Music Format Says About You”.

Read as FACT reports: “Amazon sold more turntables than any other audio product this Christmas”.

Watch “Fascinating analysis of the way Trump uses words” at Boing Boing.

Read as Yahoo reports: “People Aren’t Smart Enough for Democracy to Flourish, Scientists Say”.

The “Creative Life” Is More Mundane Than We’d Like To Believe: Additional Thoughts On An Unfinished Coloring Book.

12042909_10153691586456450_8249815417010762711_nAs you, my friend, know. (Since you are my friend, right?) I have been working on a coloring book project. I am very excited about it but it has taken much longer than I expected. I have had to understand why it has taken so long because God is good and I have had people interested in purchasing the project even before it is complete, which is quite humbling. This process prompted me to publicly think through why the project is not yet complete. That post has since prompted some more random thoughts about creativity that I wanted to write down before I forgot. Since I was writing them down anyway, I thought I would share. Because, you know; that’s what we do, right?

Anyway, as I’ve struggled to understand my own creative process, here are some dditional thoughts. Make of them what you will. Correct what you must:

It’s OK to feel like you don’t have anything to pour out right now.Creative types love story so we tend to mythologize those we admire. For example, I love Wes Anderson’s movies. Taken as a whole, it seems like he’s been on an unbelievable creative streak. Just consider the progression of his work (and this isn’t even a complete list!):

Creatives often look at a list like this and think to themselves well crap, I’ll never live up to that, so why even try. But look again at the list: there’s typically a 2-3 year gap between the finished products that we are given. That’s a long time. I’ve never met Wes Anderson so I don’t know, but I’m willing to guess that there were plenty of days during those 2-3 year gaps during which he didn’t feel particularly creative. There were lots of tasks to be done, but even when those tasks are in the pursuit of creativity, they may not, in and of themselves feel particularly creative.

But I know many creatives who go to deeper with these gaps. There are honestly times when many of us simply feel like we don’t have anything to give. As I stated earlier, this is the time to fill up. Know yourself well enough to know what to put in to your system. Maybe you need to read some Scripture. Meditate. Watch a movie, listen to music, read a book, take a walk, sit in silence, drink a good cup of coffee or a craft beer. Get some sleep?

Creativity demands not only that you know yourself well enough to know when to fill up or pour out, it demands that you know what fills you up but it also demands that you know that this drought is but for a season because:

Creativity takes a long time and takes the long-term vision as seriously as the short-term creative bursts.

Creativity is always interested in finding its true voice, that’s why the big picture is so important. A letter is not a word and a word is not a sentence and a sentence is not a paragraph and a paragraph is not a novel and a novel is not a body of work. All of them are capturing, displaying and refining the authors’s voice but it is not until there are several novels that an author even truly knows their own voice.

Creative expression is not just pouring out, it is a visualization and projection of the self. It is sharing with others how we see and understand the world. We create things no one else could because no one else is you. I have had people who write songs I could never in a million years compose tell me that they look at some of my drawings and feel like they could never do that. And that’s a beautiful thing because:

Creativity forces us to humility, to learning and growing.

Though there are always some arrogant jagweeds in every circle of life, generally speaking, creative people are humble because they have come to the self-awareness that they are always learning and growing. And they have creative output to visualize their progression. The creative process is never static and thus it always requires the creator to understand that they are trying to get better at their craft. They are trying to write better songs, paint better paintings, write better stories, explain things more clearly. And each creative piece is a step along that journey because:

Many creative people are not satisfied with their current creative status and sometimes creative souls are quite hard on themselves.

Even though many creatives understand the beauty of telling a grand story, we get critical of the step we just took. It is quite common to notice the flaws no one else does. And not just notice them but dwell on them. In fact, they become all we can see in a piece. So much so that we are rarely satisfied with our current status. It’s almost like when Jonathan Safran Foer says in Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close,  laments:

“Sometimes I can hear my bones straining under the weight of all the lives I’m not living.”

The beauty of possibly and the fallibility of our last step keep us humbled by the potential. The potential is so grand that our last step forward never gets us where we want to be. And so many creative people are their own worst critic. We measure by what could be rather than what just was because we often forget that:

Creativity sweeps itself up in itself. Like an avalanche.

You might be able to start an avalanche (take care of your soul, fill up with creativity-inspiring things, etc.) but you cannot control it. Though most are killed by avalanches, many dream of surfing one.

Creatives often love the thrill of the creative process as much as anything they actually produce. In this surge, we must remember that we will not remember everything. Some things will escape and much will be lost. And that’s OK because:

Creativity requires you listen to the whispers before you can hear the chorus.

Avalanches start small. A snowball here, a homeless boulder there. But there is no avalanche without the spark and there is no creativity without the whispers. Though creative outbursts sometimes come like the fully formed “Hallelujah Chorus” and all we have to do is record it as best we can, more often, it starts as a whisper. It becomes a conversation with the muse, hearing the whisper until it becomes louder and is coaxed along the way. For most creative people, most of the time, this requires patience and work which leads me to conclude:

The “creative life” might seem more mundane than you’d like to believe. I have friends who used to build weapons but now build robots, works with museums  and has hung out with David Byrne. We don’t all get to live that life. In fact, most of us don’t and won’t. And that’s OK.

Since the creativity is concerned with the artist’s voice as much as any particular statement, we must remember that creativity ultimately encompasses all of life. We find our creative voice as we follow the Creator God who brought order from chaos. Doing the dishes is a much less glamorous or even attractive way of doing this, but it, nonetheless, brings order from chaos. It is an expression of the self over the created order, reorganizing the universe’s molecules as only we could.

I often think of the Christian life as a continual process of undoing the effects of the Fall. When Adam and Eve chose to mistrust God, they thrust themselves, everyone and everything following them into slavery to sin, disruption, distrust, disorder and entropy. Picking up trash along the way is a way of making a difference, of reversing the Fall. Fighting for social justice, caring for the environment, loving the least of these, painting, writing, composing. All of these are ways of bringing the progress of Good News to bear on where and when we live. But we should not be so naive as to only classify some of them as creative and others as mundane.

Though creativity tends towards the extravagant, it born in the everyday.

I’d love to hear more about how you understand the creative process. I’d also love to hear which is your favorite Wes Anderson movie and why.

the Weekly Town Crier

London's Town Crier copyI think you know what I mean. I think you know what I really mean. Well, actually. Hold on there a minute. I haven’t said anything yet for you to even know what I could mean. Much less what I really mean.

So I suppose I should come up with something really clever to say here. Something about how the Weekly Town Crier is where I collect links of varying levels of interest and pas them along to you for your interest in the interesting links.

Enjoy.

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 the year.

Read NPR’s piece: “Learning Soft Skills In Childhood Can Prevent Harder Problems Later.”

Now you can have a robot act as maid of honour at your wedding.”

Read as Salon considers “How the Samurai warrior inspired the Jedi Knights.”

Read as Sojourners considers “‘Firefly‘ and the Dignity of Humanity.”

Read an account of “Kurt Vonnegut’s Daily Routine.”

Read as NPR considers “The Neuroscience Of Musical Perception.”

Watch as The Atlantic considers “Who Made Pop Music So Repetitive?”

Read as The Atlantic considers the public zoning backlash against small community libraries.

Read as Consequence of Sound‘s catches up with Henry Rollins.

  • See Henry Rollins build and destroy a gingerbread house.

Read as Mother Jones considers Pete Seeger‘s FBI file.

Read as T Bone Burnett considers “Our culture loves music. Too bad our economy doesn’t value it” for The Washington Post.

Read as No Depression asks: “How Did You Find Your Favorite Albums This Year?”

See the “Secret catalog of gadgets police and feds can use to spy on your cellphone.”

Read as the Atlantic considers “Machines That Can See Depression on a Person’s Face.”

Read The Creator‘s Project‘s piece: “The Art of Reflection Within the Rothko Chapel.”

Read about “The Exemplary Narcissism of Snoopy.”

Read as The Guardian considers “Hidden gems of 2015: great records you may have missed.”

Read as KJZZ considers the “Mixed Reactions To Anheuser-Busch’s Plans To Buy Four Peaks Brewing Company.”

Read as Rolling Stone considers the impact of the Grateful Dead‘s farewell shows.

Read Okay Player‘s piece: “Killer Mike, Big Boi + More Will Testify On Hip Hop’s Behalf In Front Of The Supreme Court Today.”

Browse The Washington Post‘s ranking of the country’s best “food cities.”

See Shane McGowan’s new teeth.

See someone “Pouring a Thermos of Hot Tea at -40°C Near the Arctic Circle.”

See the card that caused Steve Harvey’s worst nightmare.

Browse “A Beginner’s Guide To Frank Zappa“.

Read Stereogum‘s report that Lenny Kravitz is being accused of illegal dentistry in the Bahamas.

Read about many Muslim women asking non-Muslim women not to wear the hajib “in the name of interfaith solidarity.”

Read Noisey‘s interview with “The Founder of ‘Yeezianity’, The First Religion Based Onn Kanye West“.

Meet the finalists who could design the Obama Presidential Center.”

Read CNN‘s report: “Vatican paper says ‘The Force Awakens’ is not evil enough”.

Fueling the rumors that Apple is ditching the 3.5mm headjack, read Hypebeast‘s report: “Apple is Developing its Own High Quality Audio Format.”

Read Rolling Stone‘s article: “Cheap Trick‘s Bun E. Carlos on Possible Rock Hall Reunion: Any friendship we had went away when I had to file a federal lawsuit,” says drummer.”

Read as Christianity Today considers “Why We Get Religious About ‘Star Wars’.

Read The New York Times’ article: “New Novel From Jonathan Safran Foer Coming in September.”

Read “The Story Behind The Famous Portrait of André The Giant Clutching A Beer Can.”

Read CNN‘s piece about companies with “mandatory” vacation policies.

Read Noisey‘s report about the “rebirth” of CBGBs . . . as a NJ airport restaurant.

Browse Pixar color palettes.

Read Rolling Stone‘s interview with Leon Bridges.

Read about the new “451” internet error code for internet censorship.

Read The Stranger‘s piece: “How Christianity Infiltrated Seattle Music with a Little Help from Mars Hill Church and the City Council.”

Read as Noisey considers the rise and fall of Ozzy Osbourne.

Read as The Washington Post considers “Why it’s a good sign if you curse a lot.”

Read Amazon one-star reviews of some of the year’s biggest albums.

See bonsai skulls.

Browse Flavorwires‘s picks for the best literary criticism of 2015.

Read as Christopher Hitchens considers George Orwell.

Read as AV Club considers the year in band names.

Read as Literary Hub considers how “White Christmas” started the trend of popular Christmas songs.

Browse this list of “The Most Googled Artists of 2015”.

Read “Relevant”‘s report: “The Sultan of Brunei Has Literally Outlawed Christmas.”

Read The Washington Post‘s piece: “My husband read to me while I was sick. It changed our marriage.”

Watch as The Atlantic asks what you wish you had learned in college but didn’t.

See a fountain in China made from 10,000 toilets.

Read as Techly considers “Five Things You Don’t Know About Beer (But Probably Should).”

Go with Fast Company into the secretive world of Freemasonry in this photo essay.

Read the Washington Post‘s report that “The Republican debate stage could shrink considerably next month” based on new rules.

Watch Steve Harvey announce the wrong winner for the Miss Universe pageant.

Watch what could happen to your body if you drank 10 cans of Coke every day. Please don’t drink 10 cans of soda every day.

See “inflatable hotel rooms.”

Read Outside magazine’s ode to the VW Vanagon.

Since we no longer live in a culture in which people own important albums, you will soon be able to stream The Beatles‘ catalog.

Poor Nicholas Cage has been forced to return his T-Rex skull.

See the decaying church building repurposed as an artsy skate park.

Read as Slate considers the impact of “bro country”.

Read about how Facebook helped solve the riddle of an ancient artifact.

Read as Salon considers the possibility of an R.E.M. reunion.

Read about U2‘s Bono buying the Eagles of Death Metal new phones to replace the ones they lost in the Paris attacks.

The Great American Mixtape Exchange: 2015 Favorites (Roundup Edition)

2993_tape1 copyEvery once in a while I like to see who’s up for exchanging a little music. I mean, after all, who doesn’t like hearing new music? And music mixes can often tell a lot about the person who made them.

I also love year-end music lists. It’s the most wonderful time of year. I like seeing not only what music different authors loved but I love seeing which albums receive more attention than others. So this year, I’ve asked you, my fine friends, to share mixes of your favorite music of 2015. Five of my friends took me up on the offer. Here’s the delio on each mix (including my own) for this year. Enjoy.

  • See Paz Galusha-Luna’s 2015 mix.
  • See Danny Lopez’ 2015 mix.
  • See Chris Martin’s mix.
  • See my mix.
  • See Mark Whiten’s mix.
  • See Jonathan Wolfinger’s 2015 mix.