Author: rnhaas

1986, Music

Raising Hell (1986) by Run-D.M.C.

Full disclosure, as usual: I know little about hip hop. But, that being said, the more I learn about hip hop the more I get at least some idea of what matters and what doesn’t. And I feel like I might be able to say that this has to be one of the most consequential …

1986, Music

Top Gun Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (1986) by Various Artists

Like everyone else my age, I have seen Top Gun more than a few times. Unlike virtually every other boy my age, I didn’t like it. I think it’s because I recognized it was dumb but more because everything else I knew seemed to love it. And I was already watching old war movies and …

1981, Music

East Side Story (1981) by Squeeze

Can I admit something to you? I thought “Tempted” was from the ’60s. Of course, if I’d really listened to it, I might have noticed it wasn’t. But I became familiar with it when I was young and before I had an ear that could spot time and genre differences. And I guess I just …

1981, Music

Computer World [Computerwelt] (1981) by Kraftwerk

There’s an argument to be made that Kraftwerk are one of the most influential bands of the 1970s, given how they are more responsible than anyone for the transition from the fairly abstract tone poems of ’70s German electronic to synthpop. That’s an argument I’m extremely receptive to on their pioneering mid and late ’70s …

1976, Music

Turnstiles (1976) by Billy Joel

I have trouble putting into words how much I hate Billy Joel, especially late ’70s Billy Joel. Basically I don’t like anything about his music, though occasionally there will be something redeeming. And I’m getting to that point where I should be inured to him, where the animus should be wearing off. But it’s not.

1966, Music

Little Wheel Spin and Spin (1966) by Buffy Sainte-Marie

This is my first encounter with Buffy Sainte-Marie’s music – save covers of “Universal Soldier” – though I’ve known of her for longer than I can remember. (Is it possible one of my parents had an LP that never got played?) It seems I should have started with her earlier records, but I honestly missed …

1987, Books, Non-Fiction

Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway (1987) by Susan Jeffers

This self-help book is only 34 years old, yet it feels like it was written some time earlier, perhaps in the ’60s even. Reading this book, especially after you’ve read more recent self-help books, is like going back in time. It’s incredible how sophisticated self-help and “wellness” has gotten in the interim. (That is both …

2020, Books

The Alignment Problem: Machine Learning and Human Values (2020) by Brian Christian

The Alignment Problem is just an excellent book about the state of AI philosophy and ethics at the beginning of the 2020s. Because it’s more about ethical and philosophical problems, than technological ones, it’s much more in my wheelhouse. But I think that these questions are extremely important. And Christian just does an excellent job …

2001

The Swimming Hour by Andrew Bird’s Bowl of Fire (2001)

I know very little about Andrew Bird. I actually thought he was a jazz musician, confusing him with, um, another Andrew. (Andrew Hill, apparently, which seems ridiculous.) Anyway, eventually I did figure out he was an “indie rock” musician but knew nothing else. Nothing about his principal instrument, nothing about the Squirrel Nut Zippers, nothing.

1996, Music

To the Faithful Departed (1996) by The Cranberries

I know this is not “the big one” but I was actually surprised how many of the singles from this record which I remembered, dare I say almost fondly. (I guess this means I’m getting old enough to just be happy to hear the music of my teens, even when I didn’t like it at …

2021, Hockey, Personal, Sports, The Campaign to Fire Brian Burke

A Toronto Maple Leaf Has Won a Major NHL Award

Auston Matthews has won the Rocket Richard Trophy. It is the first time since the trophy’s creation that a Leaf has won the Richard Trophy. It is the first time since 1947 that a Maple Leaf has led the NHL in goal scoring. That is 74 years. Nearly a three quarters of a century. Matthews …

1996, Music

Maxwell’s Urban Hang Suite (1996)

So full disclosure: I barely remembered Maxwell’s existence when this anniversary came up. I knew the name but I couldn’t even tell you what kind of R&B he was associated with. I now understand that what he’s doing on this record was distinct from the dominant form of R&B at the time but, all these …

2021, Movies

Taming the Garden (2021, Salomé Jashi)

You know that scene in Fitzcarraldo when Herzog drags a boat over a mountain the rainforest to show the hubris and folly of man? Well, combine that theme with Mega Movers and a really great eye and you have some idea of this amazing documentary about a man buying up the great trees of Georgia …

2021, Movies

Dirty Tricks (2021, Daniel Sivan)

This is an entertaining and fairly even-handed documentary about a bridge cheating scandal back in 2015. It’s a fascinating story reminiscent of that recent poker scandal where the player claimed to be using his intuition and those who accused him claimed he couldn’t be so lucky.

1991, Music

Cooleyhighharmony (1991) by Boyz II Men

I began to mature as a music fan in a world where Boyz II Men were ubiquitous. It felt like you couldn’t avoid them because, unlike so many other artists on the music video channels I watched, they were also played in malls, in doctor’s offices, everywhere.

2021, Movies

El Silencio del Topo (2021, Anaïs Taracena)

This is an artfully made documentary about a journalist-turned-government-press-secretary, which reveals a lot of about a terrible time in Guatemala’s history that I just knew nothing about. It’s a little short on context despite the fact that it clearly assumes a lack of knowledge about Guatemalan history, but it is still a fascinating attempt to …

1991, Music

And Now the Legacy Begins (1991) by Dream Warriors

I have no memory of Definition, probably because I was not even 8 when it ended its run. But I certainly felt the reverberations because the moment “My Definition of a Boombastic Jazz Style” came on, I knew it. I’m not sure I had ever connected it and the theme to Austin Powers before, as …

1991, Music

Blue Lines (1991) by Massive Attack

Is this the first ever trip hop album? My limited research suggests that yes, it absolutely is. There may have been some “Bristol sound” singles that presaged this record but nobody seems to have produced an LP. So, whatever you think of this album, and whatever you think of the term “trip hop,” there’s this …