1955, 1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, Music

Chuck Berry is On Top

This is one of those weird records from the 1950s where they hadn’t quite figured out how to sell music yet – it’s a compilation of previously released singles (released over the previous four years) now looked upon as a regular LP because these singles hadn’t been released on his earlier LPs. So, if you’re …

2017, Books, Non-Fiction

Weaponized Lies (2017) by Daniel J. Levitin

This is a layman’s summary of how to understand probability and statistics and other critical thinking tools Levitin feels are necessary to have in the era of “Post-Truth”. It’s very much meant for the lay reader and it’s likely an expert in statistics or (especially) probability will be bored and possibly even annoyed. At this …

1958, Books, Fiction

The Poorhouse Fair (1958) by John Updike

Updike is a great literary stylist. Even in this very early novel, he does an excellent job. His sentences are often beautiful. And even when they are not beautiful, they are so full of detail about the person and/or the scene that they leave a vivid picture in the mind. I am prone to imagining …

1999, Music

Significant Other (1999) by Limp Bizkit

What does it say about your band when a lounge parody medley of your songs is better than your original songs? I don’t care that the music was created by a keyboard, I will take Richard Cheese’s “Nookie / Break Stuff” over the originals every day; the music is better and it shows that Durst’s …

1999, Music

The Beta Band (1999)

Sometimes you encounter something you don’t know at all and it just stuns you with something special about itself. In this case, it’s the irreverence and the extremely healthy disrespect for genres (which I’m a sucker for) of something like the lead-off track, “The Beta Band Rap”, which I just can’t get over. It takes …

1999, Music

Supernatural (1999) by Santana

When this record came out I was just starting to get into the less popular ’60s bands. I was familiar with Santana’s biggest songs from that era, but no their albums. I would get their a few years later and listening to those albums would confirm my impression of this record’s hits: this was a …

1999, Music

Californication (1999) by Red Hot Chili Peppers

“Scar Tissue” was everywhere in the summer of 1999. The radio was always on at my work and so the song was always on. I fell in love with a girl at my work who loved “Scar Tissue.” And so I found myself torn between my love for this girl, who would sing along to …

1999, Music

Enema of the State (1999) by Blink-182

This record, or, rather, it’s videos, were everywhere in my final year of high school. Because at least one of them made fun of Boy Bands, I generally laughed along. (Also, I was 18!) I remember thinking they were a harmless jokey band, and at least they had a sense of humour and made fun …

1994, Music

Yank Crime (1994) by Drive Like Jehu

This is one of those bands who put out very little music but you hear a lot about. There’s always a danger with these bands that expectations will get in the way. Fortunately for me, I had totally forgotten about them when I got around to listening to this record. (As usual, I have somehow …

2019, Basketball, Sports

The Soul of Basketball (2018, Ian Thomsen)

This book is basically meant for me as the Mavericks’ championship was the greatest thing to happen in my adult sports fan life prior to the Raptors winning recently. So I should love this. But I don’t quite. I’m going to try to articulate why.

1994, Music

Welcome to Sky Valley (1994) by Kyuss

I have listened to Blues for the Red Sun so many times that it is basically ingrained in me, yet I never manged to get to another Kyuss record. I also heard about this record. A lot. And I heard it was their best. So I approached this record with too high expectations and and …

1994, Music

Regulate… G Funk Era (1994) by Warren G

Of all the hip hop I’ve managed to listen to to date, I’d say virtually all of it tries to at least partially match the music to the lyrics. What I mean by that is that, if the lyrics are about being a criminal, the music underlying the verses (not the choruses) is usually rough-edged, …

1981, 2001, Books, Non-Fiction

When Bad Things Happen to Good People (1981, 2001) by Harold S. Kushner

I have been incredibly lucky in my life. I was born into privilege (middle class/upper middle class in one of the safest large cities in the world) and I have been very lucky in terms of personal tragedy: I have suffered few major injuries/illnesses, and my family has been pretty much free of them as …

2019, Books, Non-Fiction

Upheaval: Turning Points for Nations in Crisis (2019) by Jared Diamond

This is a fascinating, flawed examination of national crises which is really a plea for human beings to better handle climate change (and other major global crises Diamond perceives).

1984, Music

Hyaena (1984) by Siouxsie and the Banshees

Reading about this album, it’s absolutely incredible how much ink was spilled over Robert Smith’s involvement. Even though it sounds like the Banshees (much more than the Cure) and even though Smith’s involvement in the songwriting is not explicitly laid out (perhaps because of this), the critics of the time attribute basically everything they like …

2008, Movies

Changeling (2008, Clint Eastwood)

This is a weirdly told true crime film which turns what would have probably been a really interesting film into a bit of a mess. It’s weird watching a Clint Eastwood film and thinking it could have directed by someone with a surer hand. I’m not sure what happened here, but it’s really clunky, something …

1984, Music

Born in the U.S.A. (1984) by Bruce Springsteen

I understand why a lot of Boss fans love this record. More than any other record of his I’ve heard, this one has a (relative) lot of songs I know, and I generally avoid Springsteen as much as possible. There are at least four songs here which, to me, are among the most famous Springsteen …

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 …