2019, Books, Non-Fiction

Evil: The Science Behind Humanity’s Dark Side (2019) by Julia Shaw

So I listened to the audio book, which I think made a pretty big impression on me. I think I might have enjoyed the book more had I read it instead. This is a wide-ranging examination of the nature of “evil” from the perspective of psychology and, occasionally, philosophy. (Nietzsche gets a lot of references.) …

1974, Music

The Psychomodo (1974) by Cockney Rebel

I think I got this band confused with a pub rock band. I don’t really know how I did that, but I did. So, as you might imagine, I was in for a surprise.This is extra arty glam rock (or perhaps super glammy art rock, if you prefer) with a fair amount of quirk courtesy …

1969, Music

An Electric Storm (1969) by White Noise

This is one of those records that was pretty damn radical in 1969 but, 40 years later, sounds extremely dated, in part because some of the techniques used have either been replaced by better techniques or have been better incorporated into popular music. What is it? It’s electronic music – utilizing electronic instruments, electronic effects …

1969, Music

First Take (1969) by Roberta Flack

I know Roberta Flack from “Killing Me Softly” and that’s about it. I’m sure I’ve compared her with any number of other female soul/R&B singers throughout my life. I really don’t know anything about her. And so I wasn’t really prepared for this in any way, which is good because I didn’t have expectations.

2018, 2019, Basketball, Personal, Sports

Your NBA Champion 2018-19 Toronto Raptors

I attended a Raptors game at Sky Dome. But I’m not one of those fans who can say that I have been a fan of the Raptors the entire time. The seats we had at the Dome were bad enough my only memory is not being able to see the ball well and not understanding …

2019, Movies, TV

Deadwood The Movie (2019, Daniel Minahan)

I love Deadwood. For much of the last fifteen years, I’d have insisted that Deadwood was the Second Greatest (dramatic, fictional) TV series of All Time. I regard it as sort of the Last Word in westerns. I have acted as an evangelist for the show, telling everyone I know about it and actually convincing …

1989, Movies

Chameleon Street (1989, directed by Wendell B. Harris Jr)

This is a bonkers film about the a Detroit con man who successfully impersonated many people, which really serves as a vehicle for its director-star’s interpretation of the real person, rather than any kind of piece of docudrama. It’s a crazy story but that story is subsumed in a crazy art film.

2013, Books, Non-Fiction

The Bet: Paul Ehrlich, Julian Simon, and Our Gamble over Earth’s Future (2013) by Paul Sabin

This is an interesting book ostensibly about a bet between a biologist and an economist over the earth’s future, but really about the problems of extremism and the folly of prediction.

1999, Music

Millennium (1999) by Backstreet Boys

I hated the Backstreet Boys as a teenager – they representative everything I thought was wrong with modern music because they didn’t write their own music, they didn’t play any instruments, they produced music that seemed like pablum, they were successful in part because of their looks, and they seemed to have no agency because …

1999, Music

Play (1999) by Moby

Every few years prior to the internet era – sometimes even every year – there would be an inexplicable hit record, which just sold so damn much without any sense, ahead of time, that the record would sell. Years later these records are often embarrassing. The classic record of the ’90s is Cracked Rear View …

1994, Music

Ill Communication (1994) by Beastie Boys

The Beastie Boys confuse the hell out of me on this record, but that’s probably by design and likely what endears so many people to them. I have only heard a few of their other albums but this is the most traditionally “musical” of those, so it’s the one you’d think I’d like the most.

2019, Podcasts

Conviction (2019)

At this point it feels like there are far more true crime and criminal justice podcasts than I could ever listen to. Though it’s probably not true, it feels like there are more criminal justice and true crime podcasts than there are podcasts of any other genre. And many of them follow a similar formula, …

2018, Books, Non-Fiction

Boom Town: The Fantastical Saga of Oklahoma City (2018, Sam Anderson)

I didn’t know I wanted to read a book about Oklahoma City. (I bet you don’t think you need to read a book about Oklahoma City.) I’ve never been there. All I knew about it was that there is a basketball team there (stolen from Seattle), that the Flaming Lips are from there, that there …

1989, Music

The Stone Roses (1989)

Somehow in my mind I confused the Stone Roses with the Happy Mondays so my initial listen was kind of confusing. Anyway… I have read that this is the record that started Madchester/Baggy but listening to the first side of it it’s certainly hard to understand. You have to get to the second half before …

1989, Music

Street Fighting Years (1989) by Simple Minds

Simple Minds is one of those bands that put out an absolute ton of music but which I was only aware of due to their biggest hit. Until 2018 or 2019 I had never heard a single album of there’s. That one album sounded too much like U2 to me, but mostly because of Kerr. …

1989, Music

Disintegration (1989) by The Cure

“Disintegration is the best album ever!” says Kyle at the conclusion of “Mecha-Streisand” from the first season of South Park. I don’t know if I was even 17 yet when I first watched that episode and heard those words. I didn’t know much about the Cure, beyond the fact that Robert Smith could save the …

1989, Music

This Is the Day…This Is the Hour…This Is This! (1989) by Pop Will Eat Itself

One of the weirdest things to happen during the alternative era is that period of time when British rock bands started incorporating sampling into their music (and occasionally rap). The more of this music I stumble upon, the more I want to read a book about the whole scene because it’s kind of weird, right? …

1984, Music

Private Dancer (1984) by Tina Turner

For my entire album-listening life I’ve struggled with interpretative records (i.e. albums where every song is a cover or, at least, not written by the performer) which didn’t explicitly market themselves as covers record. I think I have struggled with this kind of music so much because of the music I listened to in my …

1984, Music

All Over the Place (1984) by The Bangles

So many of my impressions of ’80s bands with only a couple of hits have been formed by those hits, and so I often find myself encountering a band with strong preconceived notions and finding them just blasted apart by albums. I don’t know if I’m alone in thinking “Walk Like an Egyptian” is gimmicky …

1984, Music

Stay Hungry (1984) by Twisted Sister

My image of Twisted Sister was pretty much busted by their debut record. So much of what I thought was true about them seemed to not actually be true about them, at least on that first record. However, listening to this, I feel like the initial impression was maybe a little more correct than I …

1984, Music

Ocean Rain (1984) by Echo and the Bunnymen

It’s been a while since I’ve heard Porcupine and even longer since I’ve heard my favourite, Heaven Up Here, so I am having a hard time listening to this record and deciding whether my memory is bad or something else is going on.

1979, Music

Discovery (1979) by Electric Light Orchestra

I don’t know ELO much at all, though I know a lot of Jeff Lynne’s work as a producer (which I hate). I first read about the band in the first music book I ever owned, but I never got around to listening to them in part because when I first consciously encountered their singles …

2018, Movies

Support the Girls (2018, Andrew Bujalski)

This is one of those films which focuses on an eventful day in the lives of the employees of a small business. There are a bunch of these films but for some reason the film we both thought of afterwards was Empire Records, though this is a very different movie (it should go without saying). …

2018, Movies

Black Panther (2018, Ryan Coogler)

So, before I get to the actual film, I think there is the film’s importance to discuss, and it’s hard to ignore. This is the only blockbuster film to have a majority black cast. It is an absolute landmark and it’s hard to believe it took so long. (It’s a testament to both systemic racism …

2008, Movies

Ce qu’il faut pour vivre (2008, Benoit Pilon)

This is an affecting but amusing film about an Inuit man taken to Quebec City for tuberculosis treatment in the 1950s. Though it is a simple film – and arguably a variation on a story that has been told many times – its unique perspective is a needed one, and it’s worth your time.