2022 for Me and You:[If you can't read this on your mobile device, try here]The Happiest PJ on Earth • Ol' Charlie • Henry the Wiser
Library Nook • Orange Bird • In This House...
Date Night • Space is the Place • Half-Century
Every 10 years I throw a party for family and friends and this year was a blowout at the Pittsfield Grange. Drinks from Voyages Wine Shop, pizza from Buddy's, pies from Grand Traverse Pie Company, music, Atari games, puzzles, coloring pictures of Mr. T, great pals, and I made 50 nametag stickers with the things that I love most and all my loved ones wore them proudly. Here's to 50 more!
The AMG Project
Early in the year, Michael Erlewine (the guy who started the All Music Guide) approached me with a concept: He felt as though there should be a book detailing the history of the All Music Guide from its inception as a book through its online presence (even before the World Wide Web existed) and beyond. He didn't think he should write it, he indicated that it should be in the voice of all the people who worked at AMG and I agreed.
So far I have conducted dozens of interviews and pulled together a 130-page oral history that is about 3/4ths of the way done. I'm not sure what the final result will be, but I've had a lot of fun pulling the story together -- hearing the parts that contradict the other parts, and generally basking in the inexplicable way the whole thing came together. My hope is that in 2023 I'll have something that we can all read and laugh about.
Colonel Johnson, in the Library, with the Candlestick
The big project for the year was to build a series of bookshelves in the living room at the farm and transforming it into what we call "The Library." It took about six months, a lot of trial and error, thousands of pounds of red maple, gallons of stain, splinters, blisters, a borrowed radial arm saw, the patience of my son as I made him do manual labor, the lighting genius of my wife, multiple appointments with an electrician, muscle from my oldest brother and my newest brother, and finally contentment.
More photos here.
Hardwood Floors at The Farm
Before the library went in, we had to have the floors refinished. Ann Arbor Hardwoods did a bang-up job, stripping out the old varnish, sanding and staining the floors like pros.
Fixed my Ice Cube Maker
For years, the ice machine in our fridge has made a lot of clunking noises but very few ice cubes. I looked at some YouTube videos, figured out what I needed to replace, and then bought the thing that needed to be replaced. Sounds like a small victory, but it no longer sounds like a group of chain gang workers are pounding away in my freezer, and I get ice cubes whenever I want.
After old man COVID cancelled our trip in March 2020, we finally got down to Disney World this spring. We stayed in the luxurious Coronado Springs hotel and got to see the new Star Wars park. We rode on the newest Star Wars rides, walked straight onto the Haunted Mansion twice in a row, ate at the cool-ass retro steampunk restaurant The Edison, and had a generally good time until we were supposed to leave.
Despite the fact that we were on vacation, my hilarious wife snuck about a dozen pictures of squirrels with in-joke phrases on them and hid them all around our hotel room on April 1st. She even brought tape and everything. She gets me every year and I hope it never stops.
The story behind this one is that once we were at a Mexican restaurant and a teenaged kid was holding his to-go box.
His sister or somebody crashed into him and his leftover fajitas went splatting to the floor.
Without even bothering to hear the story, the exasperated mom just looked at the mess he made and said "Oh, Mitchell."
Like she had been there a thousand times before.
It instantly became an inside joke for us.
Talking with Steven Hyden
One of my favorite music critics wrote a book about Pearl Jam this year and I got to interview him for AllMusic. We discussed Pearl Jam, the Grateful Dead and bootlegs, how live albums fit into an artist's discography, but mostly it was cool to chat for an hour with a guy who seems to have a lot of the same takes as I do. But, y'know, smarter and more published.
Henry at the Polls
Henry worked the election this year as a poll worker, starting at 6 in the morning and ending around 10 at night. He enjoyed the experience and it will look good on his college application. He got his paycheck and when he saw the payroll tax they took out he said "Welp, they better fix the roads now."
Anniversary Trip to Midland
My darling bride and I celebrated our 25th anniversary in glamorous Midland Michigan at a very fine hotel and got to tour the Alden B. Dow Studio amidst drooling over dozens of mid-century modern houses and buildings. We had a dinner I will never forget and loved the cute breakfast spot in the hotel.
She is my niece and I am delighted to announce that she will stay a squishy baby forever.
Voyages Wine Shop
One of the best guys I know opened Voyages Wine Shop in Lansing which is one part high-end wine emporium and one-part neighborhood bodega.
Chicago, the Windy Apple
We had a great mid-summer weekend trip to Chicago where we ate at a secret spy restaurant, breakfasted on Firecakes Donuts, hit up a swoonworthy vintage hi-fi and record shop called ShadyRest Vintage & Vinyl, and snagged drinks at a swank underground speakeasy under Gilt Bar called "The Library."
Plus: Visits to the Cottage with family and friends, father's day old time baseball and old cars at Greenfield Village, food trucks, barn swallows, Third Wednesday, good times, lotsa laughs.
Hiding in Plain Sight by Drugdealer
A sunny Laurel Canyon-infused series of heartfelt songs. Some funky, some groovin', some strutting, all tuneful and hooky.
Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe in You by Big Thief
I didn't anticipate liking this overly-long album as much as I did, but the loose, folky arrangements and earnest broken vocals kept me coming back.
Dead & Born & Grown by The Staves
Three sisters from the UK harmonize like the Andrews Sisters over indie folk instrumentation.
Michael Rault by Michael Rault
A bright and poppy Nilsson-inspired album of big simple songs with lush floating production.
Sometimes, Forever by Soccer Mommy
Gruffly sweet indie pop reminiscent of '90s alt-rock with some great understated quietly loud vocals from Sophie Allison.
Patina by Tallies
Do you guys remember The Sundays? You would like Tallies. Some of the sweetness of Harriet Wheeler tarnished away but still lush and full of static & silence.
SUPERPREMIUM by dtrenz
Someone who has been threatening to drop an album after years of creating beats finally did it. Hypnotic and sultry bloops and beats reminding me of Dabrye and Midwest Product.
Big Time by Angel Olsen
A proper singer/songwriter album from this big-voiced artist, the songs remind me of Emmylou Harris, Neko Case and Loretta Lynn at different points.
When the Wind Forgets Your Name by Built to Spill
Still one of the best guitarists out there, Doug Martsch not only hits the scroodley notes but writes a supremely hummable and tuneful guitar line unlike any of his peers in indie or hard rock.
Bronco by Orville Peck
Still not sure if this guy is serious, but he records modern Roy Orbison/Johnny Cash outlaw cowboy songs that echo over the dusty plains in the friskalating dusklight, all while wearing a mask of long fringe and sporting the body of a pro wrestler. The songs and vocal delivery are terrific but I honestly can't tell if he is Johnny Horton or Weird Al.
I got to see Nick Mason's Saucerful of Secrets performing early Pink Floyd songs.
I got to see my favorite local gypsy jazz combo Djangophonique at Blue Llama and the North Star Lounge.
I saw my friend Rollie Tussing play a great set at The Ark.
Got to see White Denim playing outdoors at a park in Ann Arbor.
Coverboy at the Cadieux playing a set of songs by The Cars.
I saw Television City and All Over The Shop in my fave double-bill of the year.
Boogie-woogie legend Mr. B played a springtime concert on our street while I served up free hot dogs and veggie dogs to our neighbors.
Saw my first-ever Phish show in the rain at Pine Knob.
My kid and a bunch of his friends played a drum recital in the barnyard and nobody called the cops.
My usual list of Spotify tomfoolery is available here:
Computers and Technology:
Domo Arigato, Mister Roboto
Henry joined his high school's robotics team PiHi Samurai and really found a community. His concept for the team t-shirts was chosen as the best design, he built a full-sized samurai costume for the mascot to wear during competitions, and he earned his varsity letter.
New (to me) Podcasts:
Fly on the WallDavid Spade and Dana Carvey riff off of each other and interview former SNL members. Friendly and funny.
You Must Remember ThisAn incredible deep dive into old Hollywood stories.
Flightless BirdA guy from New Zealand got stranded in the USA when the whole planet went into lockdown so he tries to understand American culture.
How Did This Get Made?Three funny people tearing apart the dumbest movies ever filmed.
Twitter was kinda a shitshow there near the end, but one time Jason Isbell responded to my tweet.
My Year In Books is available online. Looks like around 11,000 pages read and 30ish books.
The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab
France, 1714: in a moment of desperation, a young woman makes a Faustian bargain to live forever and is cursed to be forgotten by everyone she meets.
Thus begins the extraordinary life of Addie LaRue, and a dazzling adventure that will play out across centuries and continents, across history and art, as a young woman learns how far she will go to leave her mark on the world.
But everything changes when, after nearly 300 years, Addie stumbles across a young man in a hidden bookstore and he remembers her name.
The Last Wish / Sword of Destiny by Andrzej Sapkowski
The first two "prequel" books to The Witcher series are very light (as far as epic sword and sorcery stuff goes) and enjoyable, and make a great companion read to the TV show.
The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel
From the award-winning author of Station Eleven, an exhilarating novel set at the glittering intersection of two seemingly disparate events–a massive Ponzi scheme collapse and the mysterious disappearance of a woman from a ship at sea.
Burning Paradise by Robert Charles Wilson
A great sci-fi page-turner about when a small group of conspiracy theorists (ok, hear me out) discover that a layer of celestial nanobots have been controlling and placating the population of the earth for a century. No WWII, no Great Depression. Is this extraterrestrial manipulation good or bad?
The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente
My favorite author crushes it in this much-loved young adult fantasy book. Her ability to create a meaningful scene while using beautiful and unexpected language. Preteen protagonist September is joined by the Green Wind in a jacket and a wyvern/dragon who was created from a library. Then it gets weird.
Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World by Haruki Murakami
Two interlaced novels that alternate chapters, one about a human computer and a scientist working on "sound removal" technology, and the other set in a fantastical enclosed city where your shadow is removed from you in order to do the necessary manual labor until it dies out.
To Sleep in a Sea of Stars by Christopher Paolini
A space explorer / scientist gets infected with an invasive species that becomes a bio-suit allowing her to communicate (and kick the ass of) the sudden alien invasion (which was awakened by her discovering the space suit species). This will probably be a mediocre series of movies at some point or a show on FX but the book was a ton of fun.
Let's Go (So We Can Get Back): A Memoir of Recording and Discording with Wilco, Etc. by Jeff Tweedy
The Wilco frontman has proven to be a very engaging author as he goes through his life and what it means to be in a rock band. A great anecdote is when he tried to convince his fellow third-graders that he wrote and recorded "Born to Run:"
Light & Magic
Trainwreck: Woodstock '99
Freaks and Geeks
Love, Death, Robots
Bridgerton Season 2
House of the Dragon
Stranger Things Season 4
Only Murders in the Building
Attack on Titan/Jujutsu Kaizen/Cowboy Bebop
The Queen's Gambit
My Next Guest Needs No Introduction With David Letterman
The Crown Season 5
The Umbrella Academy
The Mitchells vs. The Machines
Top Gun: Maverick
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness
Neil Young's Harvest Time
Weird: The Al Yankovic Story
The Adam Project
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
Thor: Love and Thunder
Don't Look Up
Hocus Pocus 2
Death on the Nile
Downton Abbey: A New Era
Jurassic World Dominion
We've always joked that every time we check into a hotel, the shark movie The Meg is on TV.
It started when we went to Chicago a couple years ago and Henry got sick on vacation.
All we could do was hang out in the hotel room while TNT was having a Meg Marathon so we watched it on and off a number of times.
Last year we were in a hotel somewhere and joked "Man, I hope The Meg is on" and it was.
We went on a mini-vacation this fall, checked in and, yep. The Meg was on.
The ancient, creaky, and sweet farm cat passed on after using up at least 17 of his 9 lives.
Take a Leak in the Bathroom
Our bathtub started leaking into the kitchen and despite plumber visits and heavy recaulking, we still can't completely figure it out.
When we bought our house in 1999 there was a late-eighties clothes dryer already hooked up in the basement. It worked valiantly for another two decades but crapped out this year. We bought a replacement but when they dudes delivered it, they couldn't get it down the stairs. What I didn't realize is that when we bought the house, they had to re-build one of the basement walls, so the stairwell was now 27⅜ inches wide and the dryers are all like 30 inches wide. After demolishing the existing broken dryer and hauling it out piece-by-piece, we had to find a slightly smaller apartment-style dryer that was exactly 27⅜ inches in width, and then cram it down our basement steps. As we were bringing it down, there was one point where all of us removed our hands from the dryer altogether and it just hung there, wedged in the walls that were exactly the same width. Ultimately, we crammed it down the stairs and got it installed, but it was a process.
Flight Cancelled in Florida = Cannonball Run
The Disney trip on Spring Break was great but a massive storm blasted into Florida just as we were leaving and flights were cancelled for days. We thought quick, rented a car and made a Cannonball Run-style drive up the entire nation. Unexpected, but we were able to roll with it, sleeping in a crappy motel and introducing the boy to Waffle House.
The Erosion of Our Rights by Criminal Architects
By selectively placing shitheels onto the Supreme Court, the fringe right has stripped away peoples' rights to choose what happens to their own bodies, while one of them is married to a woman who was actively advocating for a hostile takeover of our Capital. They're stepping over the line between church and state and preventing the EPA to set emission standards and stretched out Title 42 longer than intended. I was glad to see Ketanji Brown Jackson (possibly the most qualified justice ever appointed) get there, and at least Michigan proved to be a bastion of light in November.
Those who left us:
Scott Mills (one of our running buddies who inexplicably died this year and I still feel like I see him on the street once a week)
Mark Lanegan (I ended up writing a whole article about him on AllMusic.)
Glenn Johnson (another friend gone too soon)
Jerry Lee Lewis
Joey the Dog
Heather (I can't even put words around this yet)
In general I feel that COVID is bad, but holy shit did I get COVID this year. After two years of masking, washing, vaccinating, boostering and not hugging my mom, I finally got the 'VID and it. was. awful. By far the sickest I have ever been... at one point I actually thought maybe being intubated would be a good idea. My wife nursed me to health and a delivery of chicken soup from a friend probably saved my life, but I was down for the count and I would only wish it on the worst of my worst enemies.
This year I turned 50.
Throughout the year I kept track of the 50 things I liked, the 50 things that catch my eye, the 50 things that made me happy.
I printed them onto 50 stickers so that people could pick their favorites and wear them as well.
2021 Was a Year:
Home School • Barbaric Yawp • Knowing Look
Upstate Dreaming • Pure Michigan • Axe Me No Questions
Wedded Bliss • Firelight • Otherworldly
Vaccination Time, Come On!
Holy shit you guys. What a relief, especially when Henry could get his shots, and then the little kids were OK'd. We felt different, like superheroes. Knock wood but with our mask diligence and luck, we ain't got the 'Rona even once. It was nice to hug my mom again.
Back 2 School
After a year and a half of virtual school, Henry was finally able to go back to school in person. He's got a great group of friends and was able to go to a sort of a homecoming in the front yard of his high school. He also joined the robotics team The PiHi Samurai to build cool robots, plus this summer he went to driver's ed and got his learner's permit. Good kid.
This Old House
Spent a lot of time and energy working on the old farmhouse this year.
We removed wallpaper and repainted, repaired and replaced all the window screens on the house,
fixed and re-glazed the storm windows, replaced old insulation, bought deck furniture,
and (most excitingly) pulled up old carpet to find decent hardwood underneath.
On to electrical, fireplaces, refinishing floors and building bookshelves in 2022.
Henry's grandparents got him a session at the unfortunately-named Axe Ventura for his birthday and it was a blast. Sorta like a more dangerous version of bowling: you sign a waiver longer than the bible, then they hand you an axe and you can throw it wherever you'd like (ok, that part isn't true, but it is fun).
DjangophoniqueA local Gypsy jazz band who really has the chops. Their free concert in Ypsi was the first live music I saw in over a year and it was nice to hear.
The family took a socially-distanced trip to Northern Michigan and the U.P., staying at friends' cottages and generally having a relaxed time.
We made fires, saw lakes and trees and read books on screened-in porches.
We Were the Champions
Through some high-class connections, we got to watch a Tigers game at the fancy Champions Club at Comerica Park. A buffet, great seats and museum's worth of memorabilia including the two World Series trophies.
Bell's No Yeah, Stiegl Radler Grapefruit Beer, Bell's Official Hazy IPA
Three great beers this year, especially the oddball Stiegl grapefruit beer which is amazingly refreshing.
We took a mini-vacation to the wonderful burb to visit Otherworld, a bizarro art collective of light and space, and also hit the Marvel Comics exhibit at the science museum. Plus some triumphant hot dogs and veggie dogs at Dirty Frank’s. Excelsior!
This was our favorite room. All mirrored surfaces with an antique chair and phonograph.
The best part was that there were a stack of replica 7" records on the table
and if you put them on the phonograph they would play different tunes and change the lighting.
On this trip, Henry and I did a VR experience at AMC Dreamscape which was sorta life changing. There are only four of these theaters in the world (L.A., Dallas, Dubai, and Columbus) and you get strapped into a rig with goggles, earphones, a backpack and then trackers on your feet and hands, then you go into a 15x15 foot room and when they flip the switch you are standing in an old Indiana Jonesian museum.
You step out onto a balcony and you can "see" hundreds of feet below you as the wind blows your hair. You look to your left and right and see the other people in your party dressed as explorers and airmen. You reach out to flip the lever and the lever is actually in your real hand! You walk and enter a cave and grab a flaming torch AND THERE IS A REAL TORCH IN YOUR ACTUAL HAND! You wave the "torch" at cobwebs and the flame burns the cobwebs away. The floor gives way and your stomach drops, your feet feel the vibrations. You walk onto a platform in a mine shaft and take a roller coaster ride, all while standing in place.
Got a new pizza pan from Lloyd Pans and it seems to be solving my soggy bottoms problems.
Atomic Starburst Pottery
Penny found a set of this swank Atomic Starburst pottery in a box in the barn and it is the bees knees.
A Taco Truck on Every Corner
One of the bright sides of this year has been that some folks on our block have been coordinating with local food trucks and every Tuesday we have a different truck right down the block. Favorites have included Tacos El Mariachi Loco, The Iron Food Truck (chicken and waffles), PizzaPazza (wood-fired pizzas in a truck!), Ray's Red Hots and Tim's Good Food Grill (sliders).
After waiting through the most uncertain times, some great kids got married this summer. Nice to see family being safe and happy.
Since we were unable to do much travel this year, we decided to make a weekend out of getting a hotel room and visiting the Renaissance Festival. The jousting, Washing Wenches and falconry were as good as always, but the nicest thing was being in a hotel for the first time in like 18 months. No bills to pay, no laundry to do, no meals to cook. Just laying in bed and watching The Meg over and over again.
Henry has been working on playing the drums, composing music, and creating 3D art in Blender.
This video combines all of these and is beyond cool.
Plus: I went to a cool opera in Detroit, we discovered Garam Masala and Za'atar seasonings, Penny started putting LED candles on timers all around the house (big fan: you just come into a room and a little candle is just shining away at you), the Ann Arbor Civic Theater filmed a little play on the porch of the farm, and my buddies and I re-screened the porch at the Cottage while I ate some of the best food of my life.
All Bets Are Off - Tamar Aphek
Oh man. This album was unlike anything else I heard this year. Tamar Aphek is a pioneer in Israel's underground rock scene and the album feels like a rocket taking off. Raw and unexpected, but still very tuneful and darkly beautiful. My friend Heather summed it up when she wrote "Frequently, All Bets Are Off feels like a collection of noir short stories from the femme fatale's point of view. "Stab him with your high heels/Then run," she sighs on "Crossbow," a standout that sounds like a chase scene with no escape. Poised somewhere between elegance and ferocity, All Bets Are Off is an exciting debut from an artist who thrives on the unexpected."
Sour - Olivia Rodrigo
I resisted the zeitgeist single "Drivers License" for a long time, but once I listened I was hooked. Much along the same lines of a Taylor Swift or early Fiona Apple, the songs have a clean sheen but lay bare the feelings of a frustrated and conflicted teenager in love.
Pohorylle - Margo Cilker
My musical Carnac the Magnificent Steve Bekkala hepped me to this Oregon singer/songwriter whose album embraces elements of the best Emmylou Harris / First Aid Kit / Gillian Welch / Maren Morris flourishes while still feeling fresh. Just solid songwriting and delivery, almost like if Emmylou covered an entire record of b-sides from The Band.
Happy Birthday, Ratboy - Ratboys
This unfortunately-named band offers a sweet-voiced and twangy pocket of tunes. While the name sounds like a skuzzball hair metal act, their sound is more like Hope Sandoval from Mazzy Star fronting Son Volt.
Begin - The Millennium
This 1968 album was reissued in 2021 and showcases a forgotten early psych-pop band that never quite made it. The songs are wonderfully-crafted and lush, on par with similar recordings by the Beach Boys and the Byrds. At the time, it was the most expensive album Columbia Records ever made, once forgotten, now remembered.
Yasuke - Flying Lotus
My son turned me on to this one. Flying Lotus is an electronic/instrumental hip-hop producer who focuses on soundscapes and deep grooves, he was commissioned to write the score for an anime series inspired by a 16th century African samurai. Aside from the hip-hop elements album also "often taps into the noirish romanticism in Vangelis' Blade Runner score" and Pink Floyd's spacey experimentation.
Long Lost - Lord Huron
Another sprawling and reverb-laden offering from this Michigan/California act. The compositions are simple but the soaring sonics always remind me of up north evenings.
Other You - Steve Gunn
I hadn't heard Steve Gunn before this album but it was perfect for album for late summer afternoons. Layered guitars and unobtrusive vocal melodies somewhere between Sam Prekop (from The Sea and Cake) and David Gilmour's solo work.
I Don't Live Here Anymore - The War on Drugs
More of the same from Adam Granduciel -- broad strokes of guitar reverb and Michelob commercial rainy streets but he still nails it down. A fine headphone album and background music.
The Ballad of Dood & Juanita - Sturgill Simpson
This album holds a special place for me. It came out when I was up north with a bunch of pals and we waited to listen to it until after the fire was built and the moon was coming up. The album is less than a half-hour long but is a cinematic story of a Civil War vet tracking down his kidnapped bride, and feels like a companion piece to Willie Nelson's "Red-Headed Stranger" in the best possible way.
I also did a Spotify playlist of my fave tunes.
Computers and Technology:
This video about British Markets:
Narrated by Lee Titt, come for the poorly-identified animals,
stay for the wild miscalculation of the number of giant pencils.
You're Wrong About podcast
Mike and Sarah are journalists obsessed with the past. Every week they reconsider an event, person or phenomenon that’s been miscast in the public imagination.
Cocaine & Rhinestones - Season 2 podcast
This season has been an incredible deep dive into the career of George Jones. Cocaine and rhinestones indeed.
The Rewatchables podcast
Movie fans sit and discuss the most rewatchable movies of all time. (Think of a movie where if you're flipping channels and it is on, you gotta stop and watch at least one scene... that's a "Rewatchable.")
The Big Picture podcast
This one is a bit hit or miss, but they do fun rankings of movies including the occasional Movie Draft where they pick a year or a category and select their roster, fantasy football style.
The Marx Brothers Council podcast
OK, definitely not for everyone, but these hosts have already forgotten more about the Marx Brothers than I will ever know.
New Phone, Who 'Dis?
Upgraded about six versions to a new iPhone this year. I was glad that they are making the iPhone 12 Mini since the bigger they get, the harder it is to cram them into my pocket. I've come to the realization (justification?) that a phone should be like shoes or a mattress. You end up spending a significant amount of time with these things, better to get the one you want as opposed to being frustrated with the limitations of your old busted thing.
HBO Max & Tubi
Both of these streaming services make the list for different reasons. HBO Max consistently has a lot of good stuff to watch, including some of the great TV series I just never got around to seeing before. And Tubi has a buttload of terrible disaster movies.
Deathless by Catherynne M. Valente
My favorite book of the year by one of the most gifted authors I've ever read. Valente tells a story of the history of 20th century Russia (kinda) through the experiences of a young woman who becomes the child bride of Koschei the Deathless (a mythical Russian devil) and works toward his undoing. Magical talking guns! Plant golems! House Elves! Birds that transform into handsome soldiers! Red scarves! The writing is like poetry and so evocative, it plays out like a movie in your brain.
Stick by Elmore Leonard
I had breezed through a handful of pulpy modern gumshoe mysteries that I had found in free little libraries while my beloved AADL was closed down and enjoyed them, so I decided that I should probably go to the source and read some Elmore Leonard. Surprise surprise, I read about six of them and loved every one. This was the best of the best in my opinion (so far), but they are almost all relatively interchangeable and enjoyable.
Little, Big by John Crowley
This is one that I tried to read about five years ago and really was enjoying it but I realized that I wasn't in a place to get as much out of it as I should so I put it down. 18 months of pandemic lockdown seemed like it should offer the time to concentrate and it really paid off. A tale of multiple generations of somehow magical people who live on the outskirts of what is visible, and the way their lives get smaller and closer as technology and society close in.
A photo of a passage from Little, Big
Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter
An unexpected delight, this book follows a screenplay for a mediocre war picture from its beginnings in a forgotten Italian inn to Hollywood over half a century. Romantic and honest, this was a smart beach read.
Utopia Avenue by David Mitchell
An easy blast. This book from David Mitchell (The Bone Clocks, Cloud Atlas) tells the tale of a fictional psychedelic rock band in 1967 as they brush elbows with David Bowie, Janis Joplin, Keith Moon, Leonard Cohen and Sid Barrett and try to figure out how to be a rock band with drugs, sexuality, writers block and the inevitable multiverse-splitting personality disorder/demonic possession.
The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson
Sanderson has been recommended to me repeatedly and I dug into the first book of this series. Huge worldbuilding over a thousand pages involving religions, magical armor, cultural economy, souljewels and all kinds of gooey fantasy stuff along the lines of The Wheel of Time and The Lord of the Rings.
Full list of stuff I read here at Goodreads:
I usually write that I don't watch much TV but this year I decided I would tune into many of the great shows of this Second Golden Age of Television.
True Detective (Season 1)
Log Cabin Living (if I believed in guilty pleasures, this would be defined as one)
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier
Love, Death, Robots
A Discovery of Witches
Icon was a PBS show about Rock Music photographers and was super compelling.
HBO Max/The Ringer Music Box series
Classic Albums again
The Beatles Get Back
I mostly watched just for these mugs though.Movies:
(mostly Marvel movies, tbh)
Spider-Man: No Way Home
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
Godzilla vs. Kong
Summer of Soul
Justice League Snyder Cut
Those we lost:
Dusty Hill of ZZ Top
There was a school shooting close to home and it caused a lot of hopeless anxiety.
There was a massive wind storm at the Cottage up north. We came out mostly unscathed but many neighbors got hit pretty hard, and it is very troubling to see photos of the area and not be able to zip up there and check in on it. Thankfully good neighbors took some photos and put our minds at ease before we got up there with the insurance guy.
A bunch of knuckleheads jacked up on Mountain Dew and misinformation tried to take our country by force last January.