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.

 

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.

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?

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.

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.

Why My Coloring Book Isn’t Finished

12042909_10153691586456450_8249815417010762711_nThe other day, my Dad asked me why I keep decorative skulls around the house. “That’s no thing for a preacher!” he said. It does well to remember that death is at our doorstep. We fool ourselves to believe otherwise. It shouldn’t be something to be feared and pushed aside but pondered in the everyday.

We have a set number of days upon this earth. Fewer every day. Every moment is important and any moment may be your last. What are you going to do with them?

I know it’s cliché and all the rage right now but I’ve been working on drawing a coloring book. I had hoped to have it ready for friends and family and anyone interested to purchase them by Christmas but that obviously didn’t happen. You see, like every other mortal, I have been forced to choose how to use my time.

In life you are either filling up or pour out. Exercising creativity, however you might do it, is pouring out. It takes time, energy, thought, resources. It costs something of the creator. I don’t know what it’s like for other people but I am not an endless well. I know people who seem to overflow in creativity. Every time you turn around, they have created something new and, like the Energizer Bunny, they never seem to need recharging.

But my coloring book project (which I will finish, by the way), no longer felt exciting, it felt like a chore. I wasn’t creating from an overflow of creativity, I was creating to finish a product. And every minute I spend on a project like the coloring book, I cannot spend on something else. If I am spending my time and energy pouring out, then sooner or later I will run dry. You can’t keep pouring out without filling up.

So, instead of working on the coloring book, I have been reading a lot lately. I’ve read and/or re-read some classic literature over the past month or so. Flannery O’Connor, Steinbeck, Joseph Conrad, Albert Camus, J.D. Salinger, Harper Lee, Ray Bradbury, and Kurt Vonnegut, just to name a few. It has been an encouraging, challenging and refreshing time for my mind and soul. I’m the 39th-best aspiring writer in my neighborhood, so I am enamored by how well some people can choose their words. It’s a gift that is made better with hard work and it is a gift greater appreciated seen in full bloom. Good writing inspires creativity.

And so my coloring book was not ready in time for Christmas. Because we are born dying and every minute we live is a minute less we have to live. We must choose how to use every day. Every minute I read is a minute I am not drawing. And vice versa. Since the coloring book project is something that I am very excited about, this reading hiatus has reminded to me redeem the time; to be mindful of how I spend my days because how we spend our days is how we spend our lives. That should be on a plaque somewhere. Actually, I think that’s where I saw it.

But not only must we fill up in order to pour out, consciously numbering our days reminds us to be mindful of what you fill up with. My family sometimes watches The Amazing Race and there’s one episode in an early season in which several of the contestants fill up their automobiles with the wrong kind of gas. Inevitably, the cars break down.

If I am going to take a break from creating to fill up on someone else’s creativity, I want something that’s going to inspire, challenge, provoke, incite or just plain make me think. I have, over the years, been accused of being a snob in music and movies because I rarely celebrate what is most popular. Now, I’m not some sort of elitist but I do find, as a general rule, the more popular something is, the more watered down it is in order to appeal to the median (lowest common denominator?). I am not as inspired by Titanic as I am by Wes Anderson.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that the in and out, the filling up and pouring out of a creative life requires a certain level of self awareness. Each person must know what media (music, movies, books, etc.) is going to benefit them and what is going to drain them because it is possible to think that you are pouring in while, what you’re putting in to your system is actually having a negative impact on your creative being. You can’t expect to fill up with hours of mainstream television every day and pour out something new. I’ve also been thinking a lot about the value of the lost art of silence but that’s probably a post for another day.

It seems to me that successfully creative people have learned enough about themselves and the impulse to create that they know when to fill up and what to pour in.

What is true of the creative life is true of the spiritual life. You will exhale what you inhale. That’s why Paul tells the Philippians: “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” (Philippians 4:8) and the Colossians to set their minds “on things above” (Colossians 3:1-2).

I have to remind myself of this, especially during our country’s regular political rhythms. I find myself being easily distracted and discouraged when I hear some of the things our candidates are saying and how their supporters justify them. I need to tune out this noise because, even though it might be incoming information, it is not filling full/fulfilling information. It does not incite creativity or fill my soul.

Creativity requires not only self-awareness but intentionality. Towards the end of Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, Granger tells Montag:

“Everyone must leave something behind when he dies, my grandfather said. A child or a book or a painting or a house or a wall built or a pair of shoes made. Or a garden planted. something your hand touched some way so your soul has somewhere to go when you die, and when people look at that tree or that flower you planted, you’re there. It doesn’t matter what you do, he said, so long as you change something from the way it was before you touched it into something that’s like you after you take your hands away. The difference between the man who just cuts lawns and a real gardener is in the touching, he said. The lawn cutter might just as well not have been there at all; the gardener will be there a lifetime.”

So please have patience with me if you’re one of the three people who has asked when the coloring book will be finished. I want to be a gardener, not just someone who cuts lawns.