2019, Books, Non-Fiction

Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland (2019) by Patrick Radden Keefe

This is an excellent account of the disappearance of a mother of 10 during The Troubles and the surrounding context. My knowledge of The Troubles comes almost exclusively from films (mostly fictionalized) but Radden Keefe’s book gives a lot of context and history for someone like me who is pretty new to the subject.

2021, Movies

Free Guy (2021, Shawn Levy)

This is an intermittently amusing and clever film about an NPC that becomes sentient. I have to say, I had no idea what it was about from the title, though the trailer clarified that for me. On the whole, given the cast and the conceit, it’s a film that should work more often than it …

1740s, Books, Non-Fiction

An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding (1748) by David Hume

I have always encountered Hume in quotes and summaries. At some point, it to the point where I felt weird that I hadn’t ever actually read any David Hume, one of the most referenced/cited philosophers of his age and arguably one of the most important ever. (The same could be said of Spinoza, whom I …

1901, 1902, 1917, Books, Non-Fiction

Three Sea Stories: Typhoon, Falk, The Shadow-Line (1902, 1901, 1917) by Joseph Conrad

This is a collection of three pretty great Conrad novellas, the rather incredible Typhoon, Falk and The Shadow-Line. Though all three are not of the same quality, to show off many of the things that make Conrad great, including his ability to innovate and create tension at the same time. I sort of feel like …

2017, Movies

The Dawn Wall (2017, Josh Lowell, Peter Mortimer)

This is a pretty good documentary which I might have liked even more had I not stupidly already watched Free Solo first. I would strongly recommend that, if you’ve seen neither and you want to watch both, you watch The Dawn Wall first and Free Solo second. For one, that’s the chronological order of the …

2021, Movies, TV

Untold: Malice at the Palace (2021, Floyd Russ)

This is a roughly hour-long episode from a new Netflix documentary series about the infamous “Malice at the Palace.” I was just getting into basketball then – I think Pistons/Lakers may have been the first NBA finals I really watched – but I did not watch this game live as far as I know. But …

1991, Music

The Comfort Zone (1991) by Vanessa Williams

Who is this for? Some of it feels like it’s for Janet Jackson fans (who have lower standards). But some of this is for your grandma. Well, maybe your parents. Either way, some of this is super cheesy adult contemporary. (Her “signature” song being the most obvious example.) And that leads you to wonder why …

1979, TV

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (1979)

If you thought the 2011 remake was deliberate well, this is a deliberate six episode miniseries adaptation of the John le Carre novel. It takes its time. And if that’s a problem for you, I highly recommend avoiding this version. But, if you are interested in TV adaptations of novels and you like slow-burning plots, …

1991, Music

Pocket Full of Kryptonite (1991) by Spin Doctors

What a bizarre story. A bit like Ten but with way fewer sales and hits. “Little Miss Can’t Be Wrong” hit #17 in December of 1992. “Two Princes” hit #7 in April of 1993. (The album came out in August 1991.) When this came out, the world was apparently not yet ready for it. I’m …

1991, Music

Of the Heart, of the Soul and of the Cross: The Utopian Experience (1991) by P.M. Dawn

I don’t know what I would have thought about this if I hadn’t yet heard Dearest Christian already, but I have, and I can’t help but have that experience colour this one.

1991, Music

A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing (1991) by Black Sheep

I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so hard at a hip hop track as I did on my first listen to “U Mean I’m Not.” There aren’t that many songs from other genres I think I’ve laughed that hard at, actually. It’s basically exactly how I feel about gangsta rap and I’m glad someone in …

1984, 1986, Music

Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc., Etc. (1984, 1986) by Dwight Yoakam

Country is a weird genre. It’s like folk or R&B in the sense that genre purity makes a little more sense than it does in other genres. Every so often in country and folk, there is a return to something (mostly) more traditional. And there always seems to be a need for it. But, unlike …

1986, Music

Slipper When Wet (1986) by Bon Jovi

Bon Jovi broke when I was too young to really be aware of them – I was not yet five when this album came out. And they had peaked before I was really conscious of the music on mainstream radio – my family listened to oldies stations – and before I was conscious of my …

1981, Music

A Taste of DNA (1981)

Like all No Wave this stuff is aggressively difficult. Lindsay’s guitar scratches and makes sounds some people probably didn’t no could come from a guitar. And his vocals are only a little more accessible, between yelling, shouting, speaking and yelping. The drums vary from being seemingly random to playing somewhat recognizable rhythms. As others have …

1976, Music

Amigo (1976) by Arlo Guthrie

I haven’t heard “Alice’s Restaurant” in years and, honestly, I’m not sure I’ve ever heard the entire song, given it’s length. But anyway, I listened to this because it’s considered by some critics to be one of Guthrie’s best albums. That appears to have been a mistake.

1971, Music

Shaft Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (1971) by Isaac Hayes

People just love this album. And I guess I get it, sort of. The title track is iconic and certainly one of the most famous movie themes of the ’70s. But the rest of the album – and it’s a long one – is not up to that standard.

1966, Music

The Exciting Wilson Pickett (1966)

I’m a hypocrite because I’ll rip into Motown for including old hits on new albums but I’m apparently completely fine with Stax (um, I mean Atlantic) putting “In the Midnight Hour” on this album. So much of that has to do with how much I prefer southern soul to Motown and a lot of it …

1956, Music

Bluejean Bop! (1956) by Gene Vincent and His Blue Caps

It’s hard to know exactly what to do with Gene Vincent’s debut album. On the one hand, it’s clearly an important record both in the sound and the fact that this is a band playing the music, not a group of session musicians. But it also sounds more dated than a lot of the early …

1969, Movies

Le chagrin et la pitié [The Sorrow and the Pity] (1969), directed by Marcel Ophuls

Full disclosure: The DVD which I was watching basically failed 2/3-3/4 through part one, so I am sorry to say I did not actually watch the entire movie, just a majority of it (all of part 2 and, as I said, 2/3-3/4 of part 1). This documentary, made by the son of the great Max …

1989, Movies

Wizards of the Lost Kingdom II (1989, Charles B. Griffith)

If you thought Wizards of the Lost Kingdom was bad, well do I have a movie for you. Wizards of the Lost Kingdom, which has nothing at all to do with the original movie, has a far bigger actor attached to it than the original and somehow manages to be so much worse. This movie …

2001, Music

Time (The Revelator) (2001) by Gillian Welch

I was aware of Gillian Welch, and I think I’ve heard her sing backing vocals on other artists’ work, but I didn’t really know much about her before this. I have some vague memory I might have listened to another one of her albums once and then dropped it, simply because the reviews weren’t quite …

2001, Music

Celebrity (2001) by *NSYNC

Like, what the hell happened? This album is a quantum leap in quality from No Strings Attached. It’s not even remotely close. Some of this is actually…good. And it really makes a case that, at least sometimes, it’s good that the talent take over from the handlers in the manufactured pop music space. Because, well, …

2011, Books, Non-Fiction

Thinking, Fast and Slow (2011) by Daniel Kahneman

S0, I made the mistake of reading The Enigma or Reason before I read this much more famous book. That’s a mistake because the central argument of The Enigma of Reason is that the dichotomy (or tichotomy) of the brain is an illusion, that it doesn’t fit evolution. Whether it was philosophers or current psychologists, …

2001, Music

Rings Around the World (2001) by Super Furry Animals

One of these bands that I’ve heard the name of many times but never really heard. Or maybe it’s just that the name sticks in your head. Either way, I’ve heard of them without ever hearing them, until now.