Ursula's Books and Music Corner for 2023, part 3

É uma continuação do tópico Ursula's Books and Music Corner for 2023, part 2.

Este tópico foi continuado por Ursula's Books and Music Corner for 2023, part 4.

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Ursula's Books and Music Corner for 2023, part 3

Jun 11, 10:21 am

Drawing done on location: Volksbank, Kaiserslautern

Hello there, my name is Ursula. I'm 51 years old, and I've been married to my husband, Morgan, for 12 years. We are both Americans, but those of you who have followed along through the years know that we've done a lot of moving both domestically and internationally in my time here in the 75ers. We are currently living in western Germany with our 3 cats Archie, Cleo (adopted in California) and Rollo (adopted off the street in Istanbul).

I'm a reader of "literary fiction" and some non-fiction. Occasionally some genre things find their way in (I'm not a snob about it, I just tend to choose other things).

I have been listening to a lot of music for the last few years and in 2023 I intend to post more regularly about it. It's okay if no one is into the same things, I'm doing it mostly for me, just like my thoughts on my books. :) (If you're interested in my favorite books and albums of 2022, you can visit my first thread of the year.)

Editado: Jul 8, 5:53 am

|||:. Januar .:|||:. January .:|||:. Ocak .:|||

Pines by Blake Crouch ☆☆☆☆
The School for Good Mothers by Jessamine Chan ☆☆☆☆
New Animal by Ella Baxter ☆☆☆☆1/2
At the Edge of the Woods by Masatsugu Ono ☆☆1/2
The Golden Ass by Lucius Apuleius, translation by Robert Graves ☆☆☆☆
The White Mosque by Sofia Samatar ☆☆☆1/2

|||:. Februar .:|||:. February .:|||:. Şubat .:|||

Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner ☆☆☆☆
Kaçırılan Çocuk by Robert Louis Stevenson ☆☆☆1/2
The Italian by Shukri Mabkhout ☆☆1/2
Certain Dark Things by Silvia Moreno-Garcia ☆☆1/2
Case Study by Graeme Macrae Burnet ☆☆☆
The Simple Art of Murder by Raymond Chandler ☆☆☆1/2
Things Have Gotten Worse Since We Last Spoke by Eric LaRocca ☆☆☆

|||:. März .:|||:. March .:|||:. Mart .:|||

Our Wives Under the Sea by Julia Armfield ☆☆☆☆
Patricia Wants to Cuddle by Samantha Allen ☆☆1/2
Death on Gokumon Island by Seishi Yokomizo ☆☆☆
Wayward by Blake Crouch ☆☆☆1/2
Ducks by Kate Beaton ☆☆☆☆1/2
Ghost Eaters by Clay McLeod Chapman ☆☆☆1/2

|||:. April .:|||:. April .:|||:. Nisan .:|||

Walking Practice by Dolki Min ☆☆☆
An Unlasting Home by Mai Al-Nakib ☆☆☆
Cyclopedia Exotica by Aminder Dhaliwal ☆☆☆1/2
Spare by Prince Harry ☆☆☆☆1/2

|||:. Mai .:|||:. May .:|||:. Mayıs .:|||

Death Is Hard Work by Khaled Khalifa ☆☆☆1/2
The Teller of Secrets by Bisi Adjapon ☆☆☆
Biography of X by Catherine Lacey ☆☆☆1/2
Three Assassins by Kotaro Isaka ☆☆☆
Trespasses by Louise Kennedy ☆☆☆1/2

|||:. Juni .:|||:. June .:|||:. Haziran .:|||

They Can't Kill Us Until They Kill Us by Hanif Abdurraqib ☆☆☆
The Book of Goose by Yiyun Li ☆☆☆☆
The Decagon House Murders by Yukito Ayatsuji ☆☆☆1/2
Palo Alto by Malcolm Harris - unrateable for me
Murder Book by Hilary Fitzgerald Campbell ☆☆☆
I Sing the Body Electric by Ray Bradbury ☆☆☆
Universal Harvester by John Darnielle ☆☆☆☆
Diary of a Void by Emi Yagi ☆☆☆1/2

Editado: Out 3, 6:46 am

|||:. Juli .:|||:. July .:|||:. Temmuz .:|||

No Longer Human by Osamu Dazai ☆☆☆☆
Kitty Language by Lili Chin ☆☆☆ 1/2
How To Be a Rule-Breaking Letterer by Huyen Dinh ☆☆ 1/2
Things We Found When the Water Went Down by Tegan Nia Swanson ☆☆☆
Glow by Ned Beauman ☆☆☆
Where Are Your Boys Tonight? by Chris Payne ☆☆☆☆ 1/2
Days at the Morisaki Bookshop by Satoshi Yagisawa ☆☆☆

|||:. August .:|||:. August .:|||:. Ağustos .:|||

The Golden Bowl by Henry James ☆☆☆☆
I Have Some Questions for You by Rebecca Makkai ☆☆☆☆ 1/2
No One Will Come Back for Us by Premee Mohamed ☆☆☆
We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson ☆☆☆☆☆
The Memory Police by Yoko Ogawa ☆☆☆☆
Strange Weather in Tokyo by Hiromi Kawakami ☆☆ 1/2
Everyone in My Family Has Killed Someone by Benjamin Stevenson ☆☆☆ 1/2

|||:. September .:|||:. September .:|||:. Eylül .:|||

Devil House by John Darnielle ☆☆☆☆
A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian by Marina Lewycka ☆☆
Honeybees and Distant Thunder by Riku Onda
Five Little Indians by Michelle Good
A Certain Hunger by Chelsea G. Summers
Breasts and Eggs by Mieko Kawakami

|||:. Oktober .:|||:. October .:|||:. Ekim .:|||

Our Hideous Progeny by C.E. McGill

Total: 57

Hall of Shame (Abandoned)
John Dies at the End by Jason Pargin

Editado: Jun 11, 11:11 am

They Can't Kill Us Until They Kill Us by Hanif Abdurraqib

I don't read a lot of essay collections. I read this one only because I've seen the author's name on Twitter enough and he also blurbed Geoff Rickly's upcoming book. The essays are all from the mid-2010s, I think? and they cover topics of music, race, belonging, having an Arabic name in America, etc. As is to be expected, some were really engaging and some were less so. I skipped one about basketball entirely (about um, Allen Iverson I think?) He wrote a pretty good essay about My Chemical Romance, which was interesting for me to read, and also a few about going to punk and emo shows, and specifically what it's like being the only black person in a lot of those rooms. So - an uneven reading experience for me, but generally positive.

Jun 11, 11:20 am

Happy new thread, Ursula. x

Jun 11, 9:14 pm

HAppy new one!

Jun 11, 11:24 pm

Happy new thread Ursula & beautiful sketch in your opening! You have a really nice style.

Jun 12, 2:58 am

>6 PaulCranswick:, >7 figsfromthistle: Thank you!

>8 WhiteRaven.17: Appreciate it! I've been enjoying working with markers recently.

Jun 12, 6:54 am

Happy new thread, Ursula!

Jun 12, 7:12 am

Hi Ursula! Happy new thread.

From your last thread, I love the pics of your apartment and an intrigued with the nazar. I also like Box City and new Box City, and the video too. So clever of you. I also like the pic of the record collection along with the guard kitty.

>1 ursula: Another beautiful drawing. Thank you for sharing.

>2 ursula: The Decagon House Murders will be arriving Saturday. A BB for sure. Palo Alto has gone onto the wish list.

Editado: Jun 12, 7:52 am

Happy new thread. So fun to see your set up. Drawing great, markers? Looked again, perhaps water color. Very nice. I need to get back to my art doodles. Right now I am trying to finish up a long standing quilt project.

Jun 12, 8:14 am

Happy new thread! Love your drawing, and looking forward to seeing what you think of your current reads. The Book of Goose got a mixed response from me, but it's also one that's stuck in my brain since I've read it.

Jun 12, 9:30 am

>2 ursula: Looking forward to your thoughts on Palo Alto! I'm on the very long library holds list for it.

Jun 12, 12:11 pm

Weekly 5x5

Trout Mask Replica - Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band [experimental rock] (1001 Albums list)
All Things Must Pass - George Harrison [rock] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
Madvillainy - Madvillain [alternative hip hop] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
Laughing so Hard, It Hurts - Mavi [hip hop] (2022 lists)
Norwegian Gothic - Årabrot [sludge metal] (2021 lists)

The Infamous - Mobb Deep [hip hop] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
Hypnos - Ravyn Lenae [r&b] (2022 lists)
Footsteps in the Dark - Cat Stevens [folk] (self pick, vinyl)
Amnesia - Mr. Fingers [dance] (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)
Trouble the Water - Show Me the Body [hardcore punk] (2022 lists)

Searching for the Disappeared Hour - Sylvie Courvoisier & Mary Halvorson [jazz] (2021 lists)
Disintegration - The Cure [gothic rock] (Morgan's pick, vinyl)
Odessey and Oracle - The Zombies [psychedelic pop] (1001 Albums list)
The Indestructible Beat of Soweto Vol. 1 - Various Artists [mbaqanga] (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)
The Ultra Vivid Lament - Manic Street Preachers [alternative rock] (2021 lists)

More Songs About Buildings and Food - Talking Heads [new wave] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
The Joshua Tree - U2 [rock] (TrebleZine 100 all-time favorite albums list)
Blood, Sweat & Tears - Blood, Sweat & Tears [rock] (1001 Albums list)
BAD Mode - Hikaru Utada [pop] (2022 lists)
Plonk - Huerco S. [experimental] (2022 lists)

Peter Gabriel III (Melt) - Peter Gabriel [rock] (self-pick, vinyl)
Goodbye and Hello - Tim Buckley [rolk rock] (1001 Albums list)
Traffic - Traffic [rock] (1001 Albums list)
Rocks - Aerosmith [hard rock] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
Closer - Joy Division [post-punk] (Morgan’s pick, vinyl)

******Notes on this week:
  • Below the chart (ie, albums too short to make it on the list):
    Happy Sad - Tim Buckley (1001 list)
    Mothership Connection - Parliament (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
    Shoot Out the Lights - Richard & Linda Thompson (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)
    British Steel - Judas Priest (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)

  • Let's see here - favorites from lists this week were The Zombies, although it wasn't new to me (and it's one of Morgan's favorites), George Harrison and Talking Heads. Nothing new to me. The Captain Beefheart was an experience - I'd never listened to it before and although I can't really imagine the occasion when I'd say "hey let's listen to that", it was definitely interesting. Nothing really grabbed me from the 2021/2022 lists this week, although Årabrot was cool if you're into something that's a little like Black Sabbath crossed with New Order.

  • I picked up the Cat Stevens in a record store near here - it's a compilation album but it's my favorite because it's the closest thing to a soundtrack for Harold and Maude, and it's also not available on Apple Music.

Jun 12, 12:28 pm

>10 FAMeulstee: Thanks Anita!

>11 karenmarie: Thanks! We had so many boxes, and the cats liked jumping in and out of them, so I figured I'd turn it into something even more fun for them. It's great when I can get them to follow a toy in and around the various rooms and murder holes.

I've been reading more Japanese authors this year, for some vague reasons. It seems there's been a recent-ish resurgence in publishing translations of older Japanese mysteries, so I'm running across a fair number of those.

I've been working on the Palo Alto book for quite a while now, it's pretty dense and long. I'm nearly finished now though and there will definitely be thoughts, although I'm not sure how universal those thoughts will be since I have such a close connection to the place.

>12 Kristelh: Thanks! Yes, markers. I prefer markers, really, but I've gone through periods of using watercolors. Quilting is something I admire from a distance.

>13 bell7: Thanks! Just finished The Book of Goose this morning, I'll hopefully write something about it tomorrow. I can see why it might be a book that stays in the thoughts.

>14 norabelle414: Hi there! See my comment above to Karen about Palo Alto; I am torn between thinking I'm not the audience for the book and thinking I'm the only audience for the book!

Jun 12, 1:08 pm

Happy new thread, Ursula!

Jun 12, 1:10 pm

>11 karenmarie: Oh, the nazar! I forgot for a minute. In Turkish it's properly called a nazar boncuğu (boncuk means bead). The traditional style looks like this:

but you frequently see them in other colors.

Ours is white (hard to see against the white wall/ceiling) but it's actually clear with white swirled through the outside. the central eye is matte.

It's supposed to protect you from the evil eye, and who doesn't want that? ☺️🧿

Jun 12, 1:18 pm

Love your artwork at >1 ursula: Ursula.

Jun 13, 4:08 am

>17 drneutron: Thank you!

>19 Caroline_McElwee: Thanks, Caroline. I'm trying to take advantage of the nice weather and get out to do as much urban sketching as possible.

Jun 14, 7:59 am

The Book of Goose by Yiyun Li

First line: You cannot cut an apple with an apple.

What an intriguing little book. Two young girls, Agnes and Fabienne, live in a village in postwar France. Fabienne is brash, often disliked by others. Agnes is unassuming, somewhat malleable. She only wants to spend time with Fabienne, but Fabienne has other plans. Her new game for the two of them is writing novels - she dictates, Agnes writes them down.

There's a comparison to be made to Elena Ferrante's Neapolitan novels, but it's not the same. It's very contained in scope, and internal in nature, and in a lot of ways impenetrable. I didn't walk away feeling like I particularly understood anyone's motivation, but I was compelled by it all anyway; the girls are vivid characters, and they're surrounded by others who are appropriately opaque to a young teenager. I felt like the book captured that in-between time when you want to determine life for yourself and yet have no idea what you really want or how to get it.

Ugh, this is why I don't read descriptions of books, they always sound terrible. I enjoyed this book quite a lot, but it's more one to ponder over than one to hand you any answers.

Jun 14, 8:05 am

I tried to read a book by Yiyun Li several years ago and couldn't make heads or tails of it. My fault, I'm sure!

Jun 14, 8:10 am

>21 ursula: It's a tough one to describe, isn't it? For what it's worth, I think you did a good job of it, but it's the kind of book whose descriptions make more sense once you've read it because it's so... yeah, I don't know what. You may have liked it more than I did, but I did find it compelling overall.

Jun 14, 8:21 am

>22 katiekrug: That's how I felt when I tried a book by Clarice Lispector last year(?). I noped out of it. I'm curious, what was the book you tried?

Jun 14, 8:34 am

>24 ursula: - I honestly don't remember. And I read so few pages of it, I didn't bother recording it as a DNF :-P

Jun 14, 8:36 am

>25 katiekrug: - Scratch that. I did note it. It was Dear Friend, From My Life I Write to You in Your Life. The title should have been enough to put me off, but she was speaking at the NYPL and I was going to the event... about which I remember nothing. Ha!

Jun 14, 3:11 pm

>23 bell7: Thanks, I appreciate that! I honestly wasn't sure if I was liking it or not for probably half the book but ultimately landed on the positive side.

>26 katiekrug: Yeahhhhh.... that title doesn't make me want to run out and read it, that's for sure! Also, haha, love those events and happenings lost to the mists of time. :)

Jun 16, 12:56 pm

The Decagon House Murders by Yukito Ayatsuji

First line: The sea at night. A time of peace.

This is a recent translation of a Japanese mystery from 1987. It's one of those locked-room mysteries that seem to have had quite a heyday in Japan. This one refers in the text to Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None and shares some similarities - an island setting, victims dying one by one, etc. In this case, the victims are members of their university's Mystery Club, and they're on the island on the anniversary of a multiple murder at the titular Decagon House. That murder was not really solved satisfactorily, and it turns out they have all received mysterious letters about it as well.

I'm not going to say much about the book, but I will say I found it quite ingenious, once I was finished. I'm not one to try to figure things out while I'm reading, so I can't say what it would be like if you are that kind of person; but for me, I definitely didn't guess the solution and I was also a little mad at myself for not guessing it. :)

Jun 17, 3:21 pm

Well, I didn't escape what Morgan had, so now it's my turn to be sick. I'm tired of this pattern of him getting sick, getting better, me getting sick. He was sick over 2 weekends, we had one Saturday out, now I've been sick over this weekend. If I don't recover for next weekend we won't do anything together until mid-July, since he will be at a conference in Croatia the first week of July. It's just so frustrating the way it takes up months.

Editado: Jun 19, 9:27 am

Weekly 5x5

II - Meat Puppets [cowpunk] (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)
Music Has the Right to Children - Boards of Canada [electronic] (TrebleZine 100 all-time favorite albums list)
From Elvis in Memphis - Elvis Presley [rock] (1001 Albums list)
Nothing New Under the Sun - Time Binding Ensemble [neoclassical] (2021 lists)
At Death's Door - Goodbye World [metal] (2021 lists)

Germ Free Adolescents - X-Ray Spex [punk] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
The Black Parade - My Chemical Romance [pop-punk/rock] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
Radio City - Big Star [rock] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
Chicago Transit Authority - Chicago [jazz rock] (1001 Albums list)
Compilation - The Clean [indie rock] (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)

Mind Palace Music - @ [folk-pop] (Morgan’s pick)
Never Before Seen, Never Again Found - Arm's Length [emo] (self pick/favorite of 2022)
Dusty in Memphis - Dusty Springfield [pop] (1001 Albums list)
Rumours - Fleetwood Mac [rock] (TrebleZine 100 all-time favorite albums list)
LIFE ON EARTH - Hooray for the Riff Raff [nature punk] (2022 lists)

Radio - LL Cool J [hip hop] (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)
Revealer - Madison Cunningham [americana] (2022 lists)
Goo - Sonic Youth [alternative rock] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
Aşk - Altın Gün [Anatolian rock/Turkish psychedelic rock] (new releases)
Crosby, Stills & Nash - Crosby, Stills & Nash [folk rock] (1001 Albums list)

Lyte as a Rock - MC Lyte [hip hop] (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)
Hotter Than July - Stevie Wonder [pop] (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)
Never the Right Time - Andy Stott [electronic] (2021 lists)
Time Skiffs - Animal Collective [neo-psychedelia] (2022 lists)
Green River - Creedence Clearwater Revival [rock] (1001 Albums list)

******Notes on this week (Everyone’s in Memphis!):
  • Below the chart this week:
    Bayou Country - Creedence Clearwater Revival (1001 Albums list)
    Gris-Gris - Dr. John (1001 Albums list) and also (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list) this week - loved this!
    Never Too Much - Luther Vandross (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
    Rain Dogs - Tom Waits (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list) - making its 3rd appearance on my lists in a matter of weeks
    Black Sabbath - Black Sabbath (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list) - 🤘
    Imperial Bedroom - Elvis Costello (200 Best Albums of the 80s list), listened to on the RS500, I didn’t listen to it again this week
    Dolmen Music - Meredith Monk (200 Best Albums of the 80s list) - weird!
    Mayan Space Station - William Parker (2021 lists) - good!
    Frog of Earth - Frog of Earth (2021 lists) - weird!
    One Nation Under a Groove - Funkadelic (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
    Everyone’s Crushed - Water from Your Eyes (Morgan’s pick)

  • Well, this was a pretty good week! Maybe easier to first highlight some things I really did not like: Boards of Canada. Time Binding Ensemble. Goodbye World.

  • Getting to The Black Parade on the RS list was nice - it's not my favorite My Chem album but it's their best. And it has a guest vocal from Liza Minnelli!
    Big Star ❤️.
    I listened to Arm's Length again because they're touring the US right now and seeing clips from the shows is killing me. Also I have the album coming to me later this year (has to wait to ship with something Morgan is getting that's not released till September).

  • Speaking of Morgan, these last couple of weeks on the TrebleZine list have been tough for him - he's had to listen to The Joshua Tree and Rumours. He conceded that The Joshua Tree was "fine", but a complete listen to Rumours did not raise his like-o-meter above "this is awful". Also, I asked him if it was a hot take to say I liked Goo much better than Daydream Nation but he says it's not that unusual (a quick google shows in 3 sites' rankings, Daydream Nation is #1 in 2 of them with Goo at #4/#5, and Goo is #1 on one of them).

Jun 19, 10:19 am

Murder Book by Hilary Fitzgerald Campbell

So what's up with the interest in true crime, specifically murder? Hilary Campbell explores that, as it relates to herself and her family, trying to see if she can extrapolate any larger conclusions. But she comments on her own storytelling style being scattered, and she's not wrong. I didn't necessarily have a problem with the meandering, the tangential stories, etc.

What I did find difficult was the way her dialogue bubbles and other information were often scattered around on the page, meaning I sometimes got lost. I don't pretend to be any sort of graphic novel expert, but I generally don't have a ton of trouble following the trail - here I did at times.

Anyway, I think that if you are already someone who follows true crime, or has in the past, you'll relate to a lot of this. If not, I don't think it's going to give you any answers why people get sucked in. There was a lot of stuff about tv shows that I could nod along about - particularly this about Forensic Files:

Jun 19, 10:20 am

I'm so sorry you're sick! I hope you'll feel well enough by the weekend to enjoy some time with Morgan.

Jun 19, 12:36 pm

>32 katiekrug: Thanks, Katie. If not (or maybe even if so), Morgan is planning to take a vacation day to spend some time together. Goodness knows there are plenty of those to go around (bonus of Germany, and also not teaching).

Jun 21, 12:50 pm

Palo Alto by Malcolm Harris

I've been putting off writing about this one for a little bit, partially because I've been sick and partially because I just don't really know what to say.

I am a native Californian, and I lived in the Silicon Valley for 15 years, from 1992-2007. I worked in the first bubble, was laid off in 2001 and decided I had no interest in going back to work in that environment. Instead, I opted to work for Borders - in downtown Palo Alto. My ex-husband bought a house in Palo Alto and moved the kids there when they were in 2nd and 3rd grades; they graduated from Palo Alto High School (Paly).

Given all of that, I said on my 75er thread that I simultaneously felt like I couldn't possibly be the audience for this book and also that I might be the only audience for this book. In other words, I don't know how much of my response is relevant to anyone else.

I was not prepared for the opening of the book, which talks about the grouping of high school suicides of 2009. I remember that time well because one of my bookstore coworkers killed herself in May 2009, and beginning the very next day, this cluster of high school students followed. In Palo Alto, train is the method. Most of the students in this cluster were from the other high school, Gunn, rather than from Paly, but I believe there were 2 from there too. I was in Colorado, and my daughter was struggling as well - it was a scary, scary time as I responded to her text messages in the best way I could while also feeling like I was constantly getting news of yet another death.

He brings it up (and another cluster 5 years later) as a sign that something is deeply, deeply wrong in Palo Alto. And yes, there was certainly a lot of hand-wringing and "oh my, our poor children are under such pressure, I guess" talk, but this book shows it's been rotten from the beginning.

He goes back to the early days in California, gold mining and the ways that parallels every other industry that's taken its place - get what you need to get out, while destroying everything if you have to, and then find the next thing. "Move fast and break things" goes way back, in other words. But aside from that, my big revelation is that it's eugenics all the way down. Two middle schools in Palo Alto have had to be renamed because they were named after eugenicists (my kids attended one of them) ... renamed in 2018, so much for woke California.

I could go on about so many things I didn't know, or "knew" but didn't think about much, or the illusions that everyone chooses to believe, but refer to what I said at the beginning - I think a lot of the sick feeling I got reading all of this (long) book has to do with my own closeness to the material and recognition of just how awful it really is.

Takeaway: I'm glad my kids made it out and I think we should just burn the whole thing to the ground now.

Jun 21, 6:30 pm

Thank you for sharing this review, Ursula. It sounds like it was a very powerful read for you, and not in a good way. I can only imagine what it must have been like to have children in high school at that time.

Jun 22, 12:53 am

>35 PlatinumWarlock: In school there at all, really. It's a crucible; the train suicides are just the occasional evidence of the intense pressure reaching a breaking point.

But the book is about the entire history of the area, and suggests that Leland Stanford's new way to deal with racehorses back at the turn of the 20th century (why spend money on them until they're of a racing age, only to find out maybe they're no good - we could just run them hard and early, and if some of them end up with permanent injuries from it, then so much the better to know at that point) has been applied to every single thing (and child) in Palo Alto ever since. Rotating the ethnicity of menial workers as each one starts to find its footing and asking for better conditions, dumping ungodly amounts of money into anything that sounds vaguely plausible because the one that makes it will make up for the ones that don't ... I could go on and on but that's why I stop. :)

I worked in a couple of the companies mentioned in the book, I have been to barbecues at the home of someone mentioned who at the time I thought was quirky but now I see is one of the ugliest modern eugenicists, I went on a date with another person mentioned. And I was just one of many unimportant people living their life in the area. As they used to say in the Palmolive commercial, "you're soaking in it."

Jun 22, 1:24 pm

I Sing the Body Electric by Ray Bradbury

Short stories are not really my thing, science fiction is not really my thing, but here we are. We had a physical copy of this book and I started it before we left Istanbul thinking short stories were about right for my attention span, and also hoping that I could finish it and get rid of it there. Instead, my attention span was totally unsuited for short stories and I brought it with me thinking I'd read it - on the plane? on the train? I don't know, but I finally finished it today.

I have nothing of any value to say about the stories, but I can put the book in a little free library around here and get it out of the apartment, yay!

Jun 22, 1:26 pm

>34 ursula: I don't know much about Palo Alto, but this doesn't make me want to know more, and I'm glad my friend who moved there for grad school is planning on moving back to Seattle this year.

Jun 22, 1:38 pm

>38 curioussquared: It's just built on a rotten core, and has continued to make that rottenness work for it. Churning through migrant women putting together circuit boards at their dining room tables while the companies made billions and dumped the toxic residue into the ground that sits under what are now multi-million dollar homes - prices driven up by the valuations of the companies that grew up after the hardware makers, most of which just end up being sold for a ridiculous amount to a larger company that shutters it. It's all just too cynical for words.

It's true that to a certain degree hi, this is capitalism, but it's extended to ridiculous lengths there. And being there through the internet booms and busts just makes it seem normal, but it is so far from normal. So far.

Jun 26, 8:19 am

Weekly 5x5

Sandinista! - The Clash [punk] (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)
Rites of Spring - Rites of Spring [punk] (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)
The Slim Shady LP - Eminem [hip hop] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
Boxer - The National [alternative] (TrebleZine 100 all-time favorite albums list)
Hi How Are You - Daniel Johnston [lo-fi] (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)

Liquid Swords - GZA [hip hop] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
John Prine - John Prine [folk] (TrebleZine 100 all-time favorite albums list)
Diaspora Problems - Soul Glo [hardcore punk] (2022 lists)
Goths - The Mountain Goats [indie rock] (self pick)
Skylight - Pinegrove [indie] (self pick)

The Gilded Palace of Sin - The Flying Burrito Brothers [country rock] (1001 Albums list)
Time (The Revelator) - Gillian Welch [alternative country] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
Skylla - Ruth Goller [alternative] (2021 lists)
Arkhon - Zola Jesus [synth-pop] (2022 lists)
At San Quentin - Johnny Cash [country] (1001 Albums list)

Led Zeppelin - Led Zeppelin [rock] (1001 Albums list)
Led Zeppelin II - Led Zeppelin [rock] (1001 Albums list)
Z - My Morning Jacket [indie rock] (Morgan’s pick, vinyl)
The Cars - The Cars [new wave] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
Liege and Lief - Fairport Convention [folk] (1001 Albums list)

Unhalfbricking - Fairport Convention [folk] (1001 Albums list)
Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers - Kendrick Lamar [hip hop] (2022 lists)
Kick Out the Jams - MC5 [garage rock] (1001 Albums list) and (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
For Your Pleasure - Roxy Music [art rock] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
O Monolith - Squid [post-punk] (new releases)

******Notes on this week:
  • Below the chart this week:
    Music of My Mind - Stevie Wonder / r&b / (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
    XXI - Succumb / death metal / (2021 lists)
    Hot Rats - Frank Zappa / (mostly) instrumental rock / (1001 Albums list)
    In the Court of the Crimson King - King Crimson / prog rock / (1001 Albums list)
    Downtiming - Camp Trash / emo / (self pick)
    Benadryl Subreddit - LS Dunes (single) / post-hardcore / (new releases)

  • This week had a good amount of not-rock on it, which definitely feels different than some previous weeks. I revisited The Flying Burrito Brothers, even though I listened to it not long ago on the other list. As another bonus, I already knew I liked the Gillian Welch album but I listened to it anyway. Oh, and same for Zola Jesus. Loved the John Prine.

  • Trying to listen to Led Zeppelin with new ears was a challenge. Morgan and I had some good conversations about appropriation and innovation there. Daniel Johnston also prompted a good conversation about outsider art and the potential issues when corporations get involved in trying to promote it.

  • Sandinista! is fine but no one needed 2 and a half hours of it.
    Mr. Morale and the Big Steppers is fine, probably even really good, but no one needs to listen to it twice.

  • I listened to the Mountain Goats album because I finished a book by John Darnielle, their lead singer (and frequently only member). Both the book and the album came out in 2017. There was no connection, and I didn't expect one, but I was just curious what the year looked like for him. :) I'll write about the book shortly.

Jun 26, 10:08 am

>34 ursula: Wow I really appreciate your thoughts on this, Ursula. Thanks for sharing.

Editado: Jun 28, 7:19 am

When I said I'd get to this "shortly", I meant more shortly than this but anyway!

Universal Harvester by John Darnielle

First line: People usually didn't say anything when they returned their tapes to the Video Hut: in a single and somewhat graceful moment, they'd approach the counter, slide the tapes toward whoever was stationed behind the register, and wheel back toward the door.

So, this is a book about copies of some movies that appear at a local video store in Iowa with unusual and somewhat disturbing scenes spliced into the commercial movies. A customer brings the first one in, asking the employee and owner to check it out - it appears to be someone in a barn, sitting in a chair, being questioned.

It's unsettling, and when another one is found with a different scene, it just gets more unsettling. The video clerk, Jeremy, and the patron who brought the first tape to his attention are convinced the scenes were filmed at a nearby farmhouse. As a reader, you are expecting the story to go certain places from here. As a writer, Darnielle has other ideas.

I mentioned up above that I listened to a Mountain Goats album Darnielle released in the same year this book was published. I'm not very familiar with the Mountain Goats (I think that makes the 3rd album of theirs I've listened to), but one thing I've noticed is that Darnielle doesn't necessarily let the melody constrain his words, if that makes sense. He has a song, and he has lyrics, and you are maybe expecting them to go together in a certain way, but he puts them together in whatever way pleases him. The book is like that too - it refuses to be what you anticipate. Whether someone would end up liking what it actually is, or think it's successful, I honestly don't think I could predict. For me, it was intriguing and although I don't know that it fully connected for me, I've been thinking about it since I finished it.

Jun 28, 7:15 am

>41 norabelle414: Not a problem. It was a weird experience reading the book, really. Hard to distill.

Jun 30, 4:19 am

Diary of A Void by Emi Yagi

First line: The evening vegetables looked so fresh and juicy, the tips of the greens bursting with life.

Shibata is a young woman working in an office. She finds that lots of the menial, day-to-day tasks fall to her even though they are definitely not in her job description. No one else can seem to figure out how to make coffee for meetings (it's instant coffee). So she decides she's pregnant. Oops, can't make coffee, it makes the morning sickness worse! She shouldn't work such long hours in her condition! There are actually a lot of benefits to being an expectant mother.

What happens after her impetuous decision to be pregnant is handled in an interesting way. And while I felt like there was a lot in the book that maybe speaks to what I perceive as Japanese workplace culture in particular, there were definitely universal themes.


No one ever told me I had to do these things. But if I didn't take care of it, sooner or later there'd be a little comment.

"Hey ... Microwave?"

My name's not Microwave.

Jul 1, 3:40 am

Well, that's the first half of the year wrapped up. So let's see what my stats look like.

Pretty good, American authors are below 50%.

More nonfiction, and more genres besides literature than usual. I'm happy with that.

Somewhat more male authors than I'd like, but these aren't terrible.

Jul 1, 4:40 am

>42 ursula: & >44 ursula: Both added to my list. I feel like I end up marking half the books you post. I also tend to be piqued by anything described as a bit odd or weird or otherwise unusual.

>45 ursula: Great stats! I definitely have been heavy with graphic novels this year and have the very opposite stats with authors. In my year-to-date count I have 27 female authors to 10 male.

Jul 1, 8:20 am

>46 WhiteRaven.17: Well I seem to end up reading a fair amount of off-kilter books, I think at least partially because I don't read descriptions and choose based on cover and title, haha.

I aspire to have a female to male author ratio that's more like yours, but I'm also trying not to limit my American authors and so there's a balance there in what's available as an e-book in my libraries.

Jul 1, 8:37 am

>45 ursula: - I'm posting my June stats shortly, and they will look so boring compared to your colorful charts, LOL.

Really impressed with the international-ness of your reading!

Jul 2, 11:19 am

>48 katiekrug: You have more to work with, I need to make mine colorful to make up for lack of actual books read. ;)

I'm making an effort to be international, but also I'm trying something I've never done much of before and just diving into certain countries more consistently. We'll see if it leads to any revelations.

Jul 2, 12:34 pm

Oh hey, I guess I didn't mention that we went to the Gutenberg Museum in Mainz last week. We ogled some machinery and a bunch of old books.

These are by some guy named Martin Luther.

Jul 2, 1:39 pm

>50 ursula: :-)
Without Gutenberg no one would have known that guy ;-)

Jul 2, 2:03 pm

Wow, those are incredible!

Jul 3, 4:49 am

>51 FAMeulstee: Indeed, Gutenberg gets credit for a lot (and blame too, probably!).

>52 drneutron: They were, there were so many amazing books to look at. Morgan got really into it, I was surprised how much he loved the museum!

Jul 3, 7:05 am

Very impressed by your stats, Ursula! I'm a little surprised to see that my US authors currently stands at just over 50% (mostly because I reread a manga series back in April). I'm already planning on being more deliberate about reading internationally/in translation next year.

>50 ursula: That looks amazing! I'll have to remember to add the museum to my list should I ever get to Germany.

Jul 4, 11:00 am

Weekly 5x5

Vini Reilly - The Durutti Column [alternative] (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)
Jazz Codes - Moor Mother [experimental] (2022 lists)
Pottymouth - Bratmobile [punk] (Morgan’s pick/90s list)
Did you know that there’s a tunnel under Ocean Blvd - Lana Del Rey [pop] (new releases/Morgan’s pick)
The Cactus Album - 3rd Bass [hip hop] (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)

Milo Goes to College - The Descendents [punk] (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)
Superunknown - Soundgarden [alternative] (Morgan’s pick/90s list)
Motomami - Rosalia [latin pop] (2022 lists)
Aethiopes - Billy Woods [hip hop] (2022 lists)
Siamese Dream - Smashing Pumpkins [alternative] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)

AM - Arctic Monkeys [indie rock] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
Greatest Hits - Sly & the Family Stone [funk] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
The Band - The Band [rock] (1001 Albums list)
Let It Be - The Beatles [rock] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
Last - Loma Prieta [punk] (new releases/Morgan’s pick)

Richard D. James Album - Aphex Twin [electronic]
Long Live the Kane - Big Daddy Kane [hip hop] (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)
To Mega Therion - Celtic Frost [death metal] (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)
3D Country - Geese [post-punk] (new releases)
the whaler - home is where [emo] (new releases)

Songs from a Room - Leonard Cohen [contemporary folk] (1001 Albums list)
Five Leaves Left - Nick Drake [folk] (1001 Albums list)
All Fiction - Pile [indie rock] (new releases/Morgan’s pick)
Happy Trails - Quicksilver Messenger Service [rock] (1001 Albums list)
Scott 4 - Scott Walker [pop] (1001 Albums list)

******Notes on this week:
  • Below the chart:
    Basket of Light - Pentangle (1001 Albums list)
    Stand! - Sly & the Family Stone (1001 Albums list)
    The Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle - Bruce Springsteen (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
    Funky Kingston - Toots & the Maytals (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
    Dance Hall Style - Horace Andy (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)
    The Heart Pumps Kool-Aid - Seth Graham & More Eaze (2021 lists)
    The Obvious I - Ed Dowie (2021 lists)
    NULL - KEN mode (2022 lists)

  • All right, kind of a lot going on this week. Morgan was home for most of it so we did a lot of listening together, which meant that he shared some of the albums he was listening to from a list of the best 90s albums he's going through, and also some of the new releases he's been meaning to get to. Between those and the way the lists fell, it turned into a pretty punk-heavy week.

  • As for the rest of it, I love The Band so I was not upset to listen to that album again. Same with Siamese Dream.I wondered idly how many times I've listened to some of the songs on that album - let's just say the answer is somewhere beyond "a lot". (Specifically "Disarm" and "Mayonnaise", the latter of which is my all-time favorite Pumpkins song.) And Soundgarden, that CD used to live in my car permanently.

  • I will just say that I do not get Springsteen. At all. This album did not help.

Jul 4, 11:01 am

>54 bell7: I'm always finding books in Libby that look interesting but then I try to mete them out because they're by American authors. I can understand being surprised yours is higher if you've also read a bunch of manga!

The Gutenberg Museum is definitely a must-see, I'd say. It's relatively small but they pack a lot in. There are two of his Bibles there as well but they're in a separate room and no photos are allowed.

Editado: Jul 9, 2:57 am

No Longer Human by Osamu Dazai

First line: I have seen three pictures of the man.

I picked this one up for two reasons: 1. I'm reading whatever Japanese books I run across in my library's catalog that look interesting, and 2. The last book I read (Diary of a Void) said that the author had won the Osamu Dazai prize before. I had never heard of him, but when I saw a book of his, I figured I should read it.

This was not a pleasant reading experience! It's a "found diaries" sort of book, and the character whose diaries we read is completely detached from the world around him. He seems to think he's always been different, referring to everyone else as "human beings" that he doesn't understand.

He puts on a clowning face that others will enjoy and that will also give him room to pass off any of his strange behavior as a joke. He finds little enjoyment in life, and what he does find is often self-destructive and/or damaging to others. Let's just say it doesn't end well.

As I said, this was not a pleasant reading experience. But I've been thinking about it a lot since I finished it and I find myself glad I read it. Realizing the main character's outward face doesn't let anyone know that the person inside is confused and scared all the time. That complete unknowableness of others is unsettling to think about.

Quote(s): I think that even a death mask would hold more of an expression, leave more of a memory. That effigy suggests nothing so much as a human body to which a horse’s head has been attached. Something ineffable makes the beholder shudder in distaste. I have never seen such an inscrutable face on a man.


I have always shook with fright before human beings. Unable as I was to feel the least particle of confidence in my ability to speak and act like a human being, I kept my solitary agonies locked in my breast. I kept my melancholy and my agitation hidden, careful lest any trace should be left exposed. I feigned an innocent optimism; I gradually perfected myself in the role of the farcical eccentric.

Jul 9, 2:32 am

>57 ursula: I just picked up a copy of this book a little while ago and have been looking forward to it. Some interesting thoughts on it and I am very curious to see what my take will be. I tend to like introspective work on human character and this definitely sounds like it was an interesting one. That second quote has definitely got me intrigued to get to it.

Jul 9, 2:59 am

> 58 More overlap!

I will be looking forward to what you think. A glance at reviews says this one seems to be divisive!

Jul 10, 4:09 am

Weekly 5x5

The Basement Tapes - Bob Dylan & The Band [americana] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
3 Feet High and Rising - De La Soul [hip hop] (TrebleZine 100 all-time favorite albums list)
Honest Labour - Space Afrika [electronic] (2021 lists)
Hiss - Wormrot [grindcore] (2022 lists)
Florist - Florist [indie pop] (2022 lists)

Odessa - The Bee Gees [pop] (1001 Albums list)
Another Green World - Brian Eno [art rock] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
Abbey Road - The Beatles [rock] (1001 Albums list)
Threshold - Cloud Rat [grindcore] (2022 lists)
Skylarking - XTC [pop] (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)

Rhythm Nation 1814 - Janet Jackson [pop] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
Songs about Fucking - Big Black [punk] (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)
Wait to Pleasure - No Joy [shoegaze] (self pick)
Doggystyle - Snoop Dogg [hip hop] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
Arthur (Or the Rise and Fall of the British Empire) - The Kinks [rock] (1001 Albums list)

John Wesley Harding - Bob Dylan [folk rock] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
Life Under the Gun - Militarie Gun [power pop] (new releases)
The Town that Cursed Your Name - The Reds, Pinks and Purples [indie] (new releases)
Asphalt Meadows - Death Cab for Cutie [indie] (2022 releases)
Tidibabide / Turn - Kizis [experimental (first nations/electronic)] (2021 lists)

Double Negative - Low [post-rock] (TrebleZine 100 all-time favorite albums list)
oddkin - loulus [electronic] (2021 lists)
Strays - Margo Price [country] (new releases)
Raw Like Sushi - Neneh Cherry [hip hop] (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)
Avalon - Roxy Music [new wave] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)

******Notes on this week:
  • Below the Chart:
    Let It Bleed - Rolling Stones (1001 Albums list)
    The Stooges - The Stooges (1001 Albums list)
    Cloud Nine - The Temptations (1001 Albums list)
    The Velvet Underground - The Velvet Underground (1001 Albums list)
    Abraxas - Santana (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
    Nothing’s Shocking - Jane’s Addiction (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)
    Play With the Changes - Rochelle Jordan (2021 lists)
    Song of Salvation - Dream Unending (2022 lists)
    Wane Into It - Drowse (self pick)
    Departing Like Rivers - Shackleton (2021 lists)
    OUTERSPHERE - Mist Double (self pick)

  • A couple of albums that were super popular when I went to college, the Jane’s Addiction and the De La Soul. I listened to Nothing’s Shocking a lot for a while! And although it was from a couple of years earlier, I listened to that XTC album a ton and know it by heart.

  • My self-chosen albums are all shoegaze. I went out sketching and the Drowse album was a great soundtrack for it.

  • Listened through the most recent Death Cab album and while on a first listen I thought it was fine, this time through I have to say I don’t think it’s very good. There are a couple of tracks I like, a couple I don’t, and a bunch that are really unremarkable. Things I did like: Florist (not a first listen), Militarie Gun(indie), Low, The Stooges, Velvet Underground, Shackleton (electronic) and Dream Unending (death metal)

  • Interesting trivial discovery: Judas Priest got their name from a song on Dylan’s John Wesley Harding album (“The Ballad of Frankie Lee and Judas Priest”)

Jul 10, 11:31 am

Morgan returned from Rijeka (did I mention he'd gone to Croatia for a week?) with this find from a church there:

Jul 12, 12:56 pm

Kitty Language by Lili Chin

This is not too deep - just cute cat illustrations and some ideas of what your cat may be feeling when their body language is certain ways. I did learn some things, mostly related to the often-repeated reminder to look at all aspects of the cat's body language, not just their ears or tail or whatever. Different positions can have different meanings depending on what else is going on.

This is one I still haven't quite figured out with Archie - it was nice to know that this is a thing since I've never seen the other cats do it, but I'm not sure what he's so excited about when he does it.

Jul 16, 7:23 am

How to Be a Rule-Breaking Letterer by Huyen Dinh

Another quick non-fiction graphic title. I didn't expect a ton from this because I am not new to lettering, but I'm always interested in how different people explain things. Dinh is all about learning to embrace what makes your own style unique, whether or not that's the way things are "supposed" to be done. That's great, and at first when she shared her notes and initial sketches, I thought it was great that they included misspellings, etc., because obviously those things are for you, and they don't need to be perfect. But then I realized she could have really used a proofreader because some handwritten things that are meant for the reader are still misspelled (like on a page just before this one, "weight can be add to the serif point"). So, embracing imperfection is great, but not all the way to sloppiness.

Editado: Ago 9, 3:30 am

Things We Found When the Water Went Down by Tegan Nia Swanson

First line: They found Hugo Mitchum facedown in the water and the lily-weeds, thanks to the bloody trail someone left behind when they dragged him through the snow.

Hmmm. I think I was not the right audience at the right time for this book. It's a hard book to describe - I keep typing and deleting things trying to describe it. It's a dystopian magical realism fantasy/horror experimental novel about the strength and vulnerability of women?

Disclaimer: I don't know if there were any formatting things that didn't appear correctly in Kindle or would have been more effective in print. There were a lot of extra spaces in certain phrases, and some kind-of-poetry-like formatting of other sections. It wasn't difficult to read on Kindle but like I said, I can't attest that it appeared exactly as it should have.

I sometimes liked this book quite a lot, but I didn't feel like it held together like I wanted it to. It was told by one character, supplemented with her mother's diaries, interviews with other people, etc. I found it occasionally confusing and somewhat more often kind of distracting. But like I said, I feel like I might have liked it less than others would; if it looks like something interesting to you, give it a shot.

Editado: Jul 19, 10:55 am

Weekly 5x5

Live at Leeds - The Who [rock] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
Endtroducing…. - DJ Shadow [trip hop] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
Blue Rev - Alvvays [indie pop] (2022 lists)
still slipping vol. 1 - Joy Orbison [house] (2021 lists)
No One Can Do It Better - The D.O.C. [hip hop] (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)

Church - Billy Woods [hip hop] (2022 lists)
Drool - Part Chimp [noise rock] (2021 lists)
50,000 BC - Shudder To Think [alternative rock] (self pick, from my reading)
Elephant Mountain - The Youngbloods [folk rock] (1001 Albums list)
Modern Vampires of the City - Vampire Weekend [indie rock] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)

Tea for the Tillerman - Cat Stevens [folk] (1001 Albums list)
Lost - Life in Vacuum [post-punk] (new releases)
Forever Changes - Love [psychedelic rock] (TrebleZine 100 all-time favorite albums list)
Like a Prayer - Madonna [pop] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
Steve McQueen - Prefab Sprout [pop] (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)

Endure - Special Interest [punk] (2022 lists)
Aftermath - The Rolling Stones [rock] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
Back in Black - AC/DC [rock] (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)
Still Bill - Bill Withers [soul] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
Deja Vu - Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young [folk rock] (1001 Albums list)

Actually - Pet Shop Boys [synth-pop] (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)
Scientist Rids the World of the Evil Curse of the Vampires - Scientist [dub] (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)
Ocean Rain - Echo & the Bunnymen [new wave] (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)
Sound of Silver - LCD Soundsystem [dance punk/electronica] (TrebleZine 100 all-time favorite albums list)
Ananda Shankar - Ananda Shankar [raga rock] (1001 Albums list)

******Notes on this week:
  • Below the chart:
    Astral Weeks - Van Morrison (1001 Albums list)
    Paranoid - Black Sabbath (1001 Albums list)
    Deep Purple In Rock - Deep Purple (1001 Albums list)
    Dirty Mind - Prince (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
    Let’s Dance - David Bowie (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)
    Celebrity Therapist - The Callous Daoboys (2022 lists)
    All Skies Have Sounded - The Transcendence Orchestra (2021 lists)

  • Some of my favorites on this week! Blue Rev by Alvvays just missed my favorites of 2022 list, Tea for the Tillerman is a great album, I love The Pet Shop Boys and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young.

  • I asked Morgan if LCD Soundsystem was Car Seat Headrest, just for less depressed people and he said he’d never thought about it but it was an apt description. (I prefer Car Seat Headrest; he likes both - make of that what you will.)

  • I listened to the Shudder To Think prompted by the book I’m reading, Where Are Your Boys Tonight?. I don’t listen to many of the bands mentioned because the emo scene was rife with terrible people and a lot of “band name + allegations” searches turn up too many ugly things.

Jul 19, 10:34 am

Oooh, Where Are Your Boys Tonight? sounds interesting....

Jul 20, 3:14 am

>66 norabelle414: Yeah? I figured emo is a pretty niche interest.

Jul 20, 1:37 pm

>67 ursula: I was in high school at the time, so very much my niche. I didn't have money to go to concerts or anything but I knew people who did, and I hung out on the MySpace pages.

Jul 20, 8:14 pm

Just catching up....

>21 ursula: I had this one checked out from the library but did not read it. Glad it was a good read for you. I think I will request it again.

>45 ursula: Love how you presented your stats. Nice!

Jul 21, 1:59 am

>68 norabelle414: Ah, that makes sense! I was well past high school in that era but I was working in book/music stores. I saw My Chemical Romance on the Projekt Revolution tour in 2007 - my 19 year old coworker watched about 3 minutes and then made a face and went "I just don't get it" but I loved everything about it. Much later I circled back around to more of the emo bands, but not the popular ones (I'm the one who doesn't get Fall Out Boy or Panic at the Disco!). And I have listened to a lot of current emo in the last year and a half or so.

Anyway, as the subtitle says, the book is an oral history so there are a lot of quotes from people I have no idea who they are (there is a "cast of characters" at the beginning of every section), but it hasn't detracted from my enjoyment of it. They're either talking about people I familiar with or the stories are interesting enough for me to follow along anyway.

Jul 21, 2:00 am

>69 figsfromthistle: The Book of Goose is maybe an odd little book but it's worth a shot!

>69 figsfromthistle: I love seeing my stats and thinking about ways to manipulate the visuals. What a nerd.

Jul 21, 9:54 am

>70 ursula: It's on my mind anyway because I'm going with a friend to a Death Cab for Cutie / Postal Service concert next month. I wasn't particularly into them at the time (I was into the punk-ier side of emo more than the ballad-y side) so I've been listening to a lot in preparation.

My library does have the book on order so I put a hold on it, but no promises I'll ever get to it :-)

Jul 21, 12:14 pm

>72 norabelle414: Ohhh I'm jealous. I'm not a musical person at all but Death Cab/The Postal Service were my absolute favorite in high school and my music taste has barely evolved since then 😂 I thought about going to the concert but in the end I decided not to.

Jul 21, 12:56 pm

>73 curioussquared: It's not something I would have picked myself but I have dragged my friend to a lot of weird concerts in the past so I'm happy to go with her to this one!

Jul 21, 1:58 pm

I've seen Death Cab 4 times - at Neil Young's Bridge School Benefit in 2006, then twice in 2008, and finally in 2011 I dragged Morgan with me to Red Rocks to see them. :) I would have loved to see this show but I'm on the wrong continent!

Jul 21, 2:16 pm

>75 ursula: 2008 me is so jealous, Ursula :)

Jul 23, 2:03 am

>76 curioussquared: Haha, I love going to shows. I was lucky to live near enough to iconic venues like the Fillmore in San Francisco. And although that's the only show I went to at Red Rocks, it's hard to get more iconic than that. I remember that Ben Gibbard, after the first song, said "Hello people of the moon! There's not much air up here."

Jul 25, 4:11 am

Weekly 5x5

SOS - SZA [r&b] (2022 lists)
The Velvet Rope - Janet Jackson [r&b] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
Good Morning Spider - Sparklehorse [indie rock] (Morgan's pick)
Dawn FM - The Weeknd [dance pop] (2022 lists)
Norman Fucking Rockwell - Lana Del Rey [pop] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)

Empty Days & Sleepless Nights - Defeater [melodic hardcore] (self pick)
Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs - Derek & the Dominos [rock] (1001 Albums list)
Speak Now (Taylor’s Version) - Taylor Swift [country pop] (new releases)
Weathervanes - Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit [country] (new releases)
McCartney - Paul McCartney [rock] (1001 Albums list)

Tunnel of Love - Bruce Springsteen [rock] (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)
Cheat Codes - Danger Mouse & Black Thought [hip hop] (2022 lists)
Pretenders - Pretenders [rock] (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)
The Stone Roses - The Stone Roses [alternative rock] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
Beat Happening - Beat Happening [indie pop] (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)

A Rush of Blood to the Head - Coldplay [alternative rock] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
Cold Air - Drowse [shoegaze] (self pick)
Chloe and the Next 20th Century - Father John Misty [folk] (2022 lists)
John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band - John Lennon [rock] (1001 Albums list)
El Mal Querer - Rosalia [latin pop] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)

Wild Type Droid - Failure [post-grunge] (Morgan's pick)
Sweet Baby James - James Taylor [folk] (1001 Albums list)
Led Zeppelin III - Led Zeppelin [rock] (1001 Albums list)
Lost - Life in Vacuum [indie rock] (new releases)
New Lords - Mindforce [metal] (2022 lists)

******Notes on this week:
  • Below the chart:
    Bitches Brew - Miles Davis (1001 Albums list)
    After the Gold Rush - Neil Young (1001 Albums list) - ❤️❤️❤️
    Los Angeles - X (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
    Run-D.M.C. - Run-DMC (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)
    Peter Gabriel 3 (Melt) - Peter Gabriel (200 Best Albums of the 80s list) - one of my all-time favorite albums
    Gaucho - Steely Dan (200 Best Albums of the 80s list) - this is maybe the worst thing I put in my earholes this week
    Zombie - Fela Kuti (TrebleZine 100 all-time favorite albums list)
    Weather Alive - Beth Orton (2022 lists)

    Skipped this week because I recently listened to them:
    Sandinista! - The Clash (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
    From Elvis in Memphis - Elvis Presley (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
    Lady in Satin - Billie Holiday (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
    The Who Sells Out - The Who (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
    Beauty and the Beat - The Go-Go’s (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)

  • Two recent albums on here that I already knew I like a lot: Lana's Norman Fucking Rockwell and The Weeknd's Dawn FM.

    I really enjoyed the Beth Orton; didn't know anything about her before. Morgan also liked it, said that in the past she had been the kind of artist that was on heavy rotation/promotion in Starbucks so he was surprised to like this.

    I don't know that I'd ever listened to John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band in its entirety, or at least not in a really long time. With fresh ears, I liked it.

    Miles Davis, obviously this is a classic. I'll admit, I have to just keep trying with jazz, it doesn't come naturally to me.

  • McCartney: aside from "Baby I'm Amazed", yawn. Bruce Springsteen: urgh. Father John Misty: I just hate everything about this guy, including this album. Coldplay: I admit this album has a few tracks that are quite good (I love "The Scientist") but the rest of the album can fall off the face of the earth, please.

  • I like Jason Isbell, I'll have to revisit the album to have more opinions but on a first listen I added hearts to "King of Oklahoma" and "Middle of the Morning".

Jul 25, 4:22 pm

I’ve finished a couple of books too, so I’ll write something about those as well - hopefully tomorrow.

Editado: Jul 25, 4:23 pm

Este utilizador foi removido como sendo spam.

Editado: Ago 9, 3:29 am

Glow by Ned Beauman

First line: When he first sees her, Raf is sitting on a washing machine about to swallow an eighth of a gram of what is apparently a mixture of speed, monosodium glutamate, and an experimental social anxiety disorder medication for dogs.

This book reads a little like Pynchon without the stupid character names. Raf's friend Theo is kidnapped by a mysterious white van, and Raf finds himself drawn into the shadowy world of Glow, an also-mysterious new street drug. He tries to figure out what Glow has to do with this fleet of white vans in London, Burmese immigrants, the radio station whose guard dog he takes care of, a multinational mining corporation, and the woman he is suddenly infatuated with, Cherish. Oh, and the foxes he keeps seeing in significant locations in London. And if that wasn't already enough, Raf has a syndrome called non-24-hour sleep-wake disorder, which means his body doesn't synchronize to a 24-hour clock and so his days sort of drift out of sync with the rest of the world and then back in.

It was okay. I think it was either supposed to be funnier than it was, or maybe more intricate? Maybe both? I'm not mad I read it, I would see what else the author has been up to without much reservation.

Jul 29, 1:12 pm

Where Are Your Boys Tonight? by Chris Payne

A nonfiction selection; an oral history of the heyday of emo. I am not entirely the target audience for this because while I consider myself a huge fan of My Chemical Romance, and I was at the time (the time being starting around 2005, so not in the beginning-beginning), I didn't listen to any of the other bands in the book. I didn't like Fall Out Boy, I didn't like Panic at the Disco, I didn't know Dashboard Confessional or Thursday existed (or Senses Fail, or Lifetime, or Brand New or ... it goes on).

Anyway, it was pretty interesting overall. I was a little hamstrung by not knowing the names of the various people talking and being on a kindle (I had to keep going back to the "cast of characters" pages for each section, or just hoping it would all sort itself out somehow eventually), but nevertheless the stories were interesting enough. Who was influenced by who, who came up in the same scene as who, who supported who. Thanks to being in relatively small local scenes and then touring with the Warped Tour, pretty much everyone knew everyone else at one point or another.

It also takes place at the intersection of the music industry and the internet - when labels reigned supreme, when Napster hit the scene, and then MySpace, and finally when streaming started to take over everything. It was a pretty tumultuous time in the music business, and I think that in some ways these bands with their DIY aesthetic were uniquely suited to jumping into the changing waters.

Generally everyone (except the women interviewed) avoid talking a lot about the problematic aspects of the scene, except as it relates to Brand New/Jesse Lacey, whose allegations were I guess serious enough for everyone to feel secure calling him a terrible person, etc. Everyone else got a pass.

Anyway, I learned a lot.

Amy Fleisher Madden: Things like Pitchfork came for us and used really negative words to describe what we were doing. We didn't even use the word "emo" back then. That made it worse. "Emo" was a derogatory term. We didn't say, "This is gonna be the biggest emo band of all time," because that was like saying, "This is the worst thing you're ever going to hear." Emo didn't really become cool until much later. And it's still surprising to me.

Jul 31, 12:29 pm

Weekly 5x5

Pink Flag - Wire [post-punk] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
A Seat at the Table - Solange [neo soul] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
One in a Million - Aaliyah [r&b] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
Open Arms to Open Us - Ben Lamar Gay [jazz] (2021 lists)
Remember Your North Star - Yaya Bey [r&b] (2022 lists)

Walk Among Us - Misfits [punk] (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)
Kick - INXS [new wave] (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)
The Madcap Laughs - Syd Barrett [psychedelic folk] (1001 Albums list)
Decreation Facts - Firefriend [post-punk/garage rock] (new releases)
Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea - PJ Harvey [alternative rock] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)

Twelve Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus - Spirit [progressive rock] (1001 Albums list)
Bridge over Troubled Water - Simon & Garfunkel [folk rock] (1001 Albums list)
Astro Tough - Audiobooks [avant synth-pop] (2021 lists)
Bryter Later - Nick Drake [folk] (1001 Albums list)
Stephen Stills - Stephen Stills [folk rock] (1001 Albums list)

Mare Vitalis - The Appleseed Cast [emo] (self pick)
Whitney Houston - Whitney Houston [pop] (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)
Boom. Done. - Anthony Green [indie] (self pick)
Violator - Depeche Mode [electronic] (Morgan’s pick - from the 90s list)
Like a Virgin - Madonna [pop] (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)

Technique - New Order [electronic] (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)
Below the House - Planning for Burial [shoegaze] (self pick)
Gasoline Alley - Rod Stewart [rock] (1001 Albums list)
The Lion and the Cobra - Sinead O’Connor [alternative rock] (self pick)
Playing with Fire - Spacemen 3 [neo-psychedelia] (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)

******Notes on this week:
  • Below the chart:
    Third - Soft Machine (1001 Albums list)
    On the Beach - Neil Young (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
    Glass: Solo Piano - Philip Glass (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)

    Skipped this week/Recently listened to:
    Abraxas - Santana (1001 Albums list)
    Avalon - Roxy Music (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)
    Los Angeles - X (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)

  • Let's see here - a few things I listened to a lot when I was in high school - Kick by INXS was one I had in record form and boy did I play that one a lot. Same for Bridge over Troubled Water; not my era, obviously, but I listened to a lot of Simon & Garfunkel in high school. Like a Virgin, of course. And The Lion and the Cobra - I think I had a cassette of this one. I was so sad to hear of Sinead's death, and I don't often listen to someone's music just because/right after they die, but I put this one on thinking it was the one I had listened to less (than I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got), but I knew every word, every note. I must have listened to it a lot more than I thought. Also enjoyed seeing her debut on US television - on the David Letterman show singing "Mandinka". I remember watching this at the time. I had a tiny black and white tv in my room, and at the time Letterman came on at 12:30. I was tired a lot of mornings because I stayed up to watch stuff like this!

  • Two very belated connections I discovered here:
    1. REM's track "Strange" on Document (another album I listened to exhaustively) was actually a cover of a Wire song, which I discovered while listening to Pink Flag this week.
    2. I knew the Misfits were a huge influence on My Chem, but I was surprised when one of the Misfits songs started off with "Single out the kids that are mean to you" - it's obvious (now) that the My Chem lyric "sing it like the kids that are mean to you" is an homage.

  • I never liked the PJ Harvey record that everyone tells you to listen to (Rid of Me), but I quite liked this one. The Audiobooks album was seriously weird, but in a cool way. And Anthony Green makes yet another appearance on my weekly chart - I was having a rough day and I just needed to hear his voice.

Jul 31, 2:51 pm

>82 ursula: Definitely going to check this one out since I can't stop thinking about it. A few years ago I tried reading something similar, We Owe You Nothing: Punk Planet: The Collected Interviews but bounced off of it because it was just a bit too far ahead of my time; this sounds just right for me.

Ago 1, 2:42 am

>84 norabelle414: Nice! And now the punk book sounds like something that Morgan might enjoy, I'll have to see if the library has it.

Ago 1, 3:02 am

I need to stay out of threads! People say the most obnoxious shit and think it's fine!

I'm gonna drink my coffee and listen to this stupid Grateful Dead album for my 1001 Albums list.

Also, I managed to squeeze in one more book for July. I didn't like it very much, so you can look forward to that.

Ago 1, 3:27 am

>86 ursula: I don't know who managed to upset you, Ursula but coffee is as good an antidote as any.

>83 ursula: That is an interesting mix. Syd Barrett was as mad as a hatter but could be occasionally on point. Love both Nick Drake and Simon & Garfunkel. I think you listened to my favourite PJ Harvey too, Depeche Mode and the first Whitney Houston record are also well worth a re-listen.

Keep your chin up my dear and don't let the ba@#&!ds grind you down.

Ago 1, 8:33 am

>86 ursula: - There seem to be more and more uninformed and ill-informed people around. I used to "hate read" threads I knew would annoy me, but I've finally just decided to click the Ignore button on them at the start of the year and move on. And if I come across an annoying comment from an unexpected source, I fume and then Ignore or Block from then on.

Ago 1, 11:25 am

>87 PaulCranswick: I listened to that Whitney Houston album plenty in the 80s (not by choice), I am now secure that I never need to listen to it again!

>88 katiekrug: Look at the big brain here! (Said with love and admiration, not snark!) I've gotta learn to embrace the ignore button.

Editado: Ago 9, 3:27 am

Days at the Morisaki Bookshop by Satoshi Yagisawa

First line: From late summer to early spring the next year, I lived at the Morisaki Bookshop.

Takako goes through a bad breakup, quits her job, and finds herself at loose ends. Enter her uncle, who owns the Morisaki Bookshop and has always had a pretty inexplicable fondness for her. He offers the room above the bookshop to her - she can stay, help out in the bookshop, and get her life back on track.

There's also a subplot about the uncle's wife, who left him years ago, and one about the people in the nearby coffee shop where Takako becomes a regular.

But look, the bottom line is that this is a book like The Cat Who Saved Books - it's a "sweet" tale with moralizing about life against the backdrop of books and a bookstore. If you like that sort of thing, I'm sure this will be fine. I don't like that sort of thing, I find it very pat and twee. I finished the book because it was super short and fast and it was an easy thing to run through and roll my eyes at while I was reading longer/better/more complicated books.

Ago 4, 12:32 pm

The Golden Bowl by Henry James

First line: The Prince had always liked his London, when it had come to him; he was one of the modern Romans who find by the Thames a more convincing image of the truth of the ancient state than any they have left by the Tiber.

I finished! This was a long one - it took me 9 hours and 41 minutes over 42 days to read it. But for all of that, and all of the sentences that ran on and on and on, I actually enjoyed it quite a lot.

The Prince from the first line is married to an American (Maggie) living in England with her father, and then there are only a few other characters - the aforementioned father, a friend of Maggie's named Charlotte, and a couple everyone is friends with, the Assinghams. There's jealousy, intrigue, keeping up appearances, conversations where people say the exact opposite of what they're intending the other person to understand, conversations where very little is said at all but the interaction is of the utmost importance.

I don't think I could even explain why I enjoyed this so much, the serpentine sentences sometimes left me wondering if I actually spoke English, the interactions between people sometimes made me unsure if I knew what was even going on, etc.

Read for the 1001 Books list.

Ago 4, 12:56 pm

>91 ursula: - I was surprised by how much I enjoyed The Portrait of a Lady when I read it several years ago. I think I have TGB on my Kindle...

Ago 5, 4:02 am

>92 katiekrug: I've read The Portrait of a Lady and Daisy Miller and liked them both. This was definitely a longer haul and for a while I wasn't sure if we were going to get anywhere but I don't know, I liked it anyway.

Ago 5, 8:45 am

Washington Square was also good. Short, like Daisy Miller so it's got that going for it :)

Ago 6, 4:40 am

>94 katiekrug: Good to know!

Ago 6, 4:48 am

I Have Some Questions for You by Rebecca Makkai

First line: "You've heard of her," I say -- a challenge, an assurance.

The main character, Bodie Kane, is a podcaster who is now back at her old boarding school as a guest to teach a short class on podcasting. One of the students chooses as her subject a murder that took place on campus while Bodie was a student there. It was solved, although it's never felt quite right to some of the students.

Bodie finds herself drawn into the questions about the case probably further than she should be - she roomed with the victim, Thalia, for a year, but they were never friends. It's not her place to be so invested in it, right?

I had a good video call with my daughter last night talking about it and the very divided opinions we'd both read on GoodReads (or "where literary criticism goes to die", as Em calls it). We both liked the book, and we had plenty to talk about as far as how true to life it was, whether or not Bodie is making herself too much the Main Character in everyone else's story, whether or not Makkai tackled too many issues, etc. I liked the book quite a lot (so did Em).

Quote: The term rabbit hole makes us think of Alice plummeting straight down, but what I mean is an actual rabbit warren, the kind with endless looping tunnels, branching paths, all the accompanying claustrophobia.

Editado: Ago 6, 7:57 am

>96 ursula:. I read this one in June and I liked it, agree that maybe she tackled too many issues but I liked how she approached social media.

Ago 6, 8:50 am

>96 ursula: - I thought this was such a good read. Makkai does tackle a lot of issues, but that didn't bother me.

Ago 7, 3:07 am

>97 Kristelh:, >98 katiekrug: I didn't think it was too many issues. Em said she felt like Makkai just presented all the issues "as part of the stew the characters/we are marinating in", which I think is pretty accurate. Looking at it that way, it's maybe weird when books pretend like all the various issues don't exist at all for the purposes of a story!

It was definitely a book I was always looking forward to picking up, I'm planning to read more from her.

Ago 7, 12:23 pm

I bought a copy of I Have Some Questions for You about a week ago :) Glad you enjoyed it.

Ago 9, 3:18 am

Jordan: The Comeback - Prefab Sprout [art pop] (Morgan’s pick - 90s list)
30 Greatest Hits - Sam Cooke [soul] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
Alive! - Kiss [rock] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
Wildflowers - Tom Petty [rock] (Morgan’s pick - 90s list)
Colossal Youth - Young Marble Giants [post-punk] (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)

The Downward Spiral - Nine Inch Nails [industrial rock] (TrebleZine 100 all-time favorite albums list)
Second Edition - Public Image Ltd. [post-punk] (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)
Just As I Am - Bill Withers [soul] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
Close to You - The Carpenters [pop] (1001 Albums list)
Tilt - Confidence Man [electro pop] (2022 lists)

The Hometown Kid - Gabe Lee [country] (self pick)
Tonight’s the Night - Neil Young [rock] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
New York Dolls - New York Dolls [hard rock / proto-punk] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
Life Is Yours - Foals [indie rock] (2022 lists)
The Apple Drop - Liars [indie rock] (2021 lists)

First Two Pages of Frankenstein - The National [indie rock] (self pick / 2023 releases)
Fortune Favors the Bold - 49 Winchester [country] (2022 lists)
By All Means Necessary - Boogie Down Productions [hip hop] (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)
Here Come the Warm Jets - Brian Eno [art pop] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
American Beauty - Grateful Dead [rock] (1001 Albums list)

hugo - Loyle Carner [hip hop] (2022 lists)
The Head on the Door - The Cure [alternative rock] (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)
Morrison Hotel - The Doors [rock] (1001 Albums list)
Moondance - Van Morrison [soul] (1001 Albums list)
I’m Still in Love with You - Al Green [r&b] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)

******Notes on this week:
  • Below the Chart:
    Live Dead - Grateful Dead (1001 Albums list) - live and the Grateful Dead. Sigh.
    Funhouse - The Stooges (1001 Albums list)
    John Barleycorn Must Die - Traffic (1001 Albums list) - Flute solos!
    Raw Power - Iggy & The Stooges (TrebleZine 100 all-time favorite albums list)
    Songs from the Big Chair - Tears for Fears (TrebleZine 100 all-time favorite albums list)
    Crazy Rhythms - The Feelies (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)
    The Expanding Universe - Laurie Spiegel (200 Best Albums of the 80s list) (partial album) - one of those interesting in concept (composed with a computer in the early 80s) but not that interesting in listening albums.
    Slugs of Love - Little Dragon (new release)
    Gas Lit - Divide and Dissolve (2021 lists)
    Ngủ Ngày Ngay Ngày Tận Thế - Rắn Cạp Đuôi (2021 lists) - weird but interesting
    Skipped this week for recency:
    Live at Leeds - The Who (1001 Albums list)

  • I'm a day later than usual here because we were gone all day yesterday. Let's see if I can come up with anything interesting to say. I'm into the top 300 of the Rolling Stone list, so not quite to the halfway mark but I might get there soon if there starts being more overlap with what I've already done on the 1001 list. I like the 49 Winchester album, I already had it in my library. Fifteen-years-ago me would never have guessed how much country (and punk/hardcore) would be in my library now.

  • Listening to The Downward Spiral was so funny, I remember being super into Nine Inch Nails at the time. Now the lyrics are so cringy - it's fine, it's stuff that 20-somethings would write in their diaries, but you don't want to have to read those out loud when you're 50. It was also strange listening to By All Means Necessary; that album was in heavy rotation around me.

  • Speaking of heavy rotation: The Cure, The Doors and Van Morrison. My favorite Van Morrison song ("Caravan") is on this album. I don't listen to him anymore though - not contributing my $.03/play to him.

Ago 9, 3:19 am

>100 curioussquared: Nice! I'm very interested in other peoples' thoughts about it too! (I am not expecting you to get to it immediately, or even soon, haha.)

Ago 9, 8:42 am

I was just thinking you hadn't done a music update in (what seemed like) a while, and here it is!

Of course, I have nothing to contribute related to it... LOL.

Editado: Ago 9, 9:37 am

Listening to Nine Inch Nails is so weird now!! "Trent Reznor scored a Ken Burns documentary and won an Oscar for scoring a Pixar movie" is NOT something I would have believed in 2005

Ago 9, 9:37 am

>103 katiekrug: Yeah, I did last week's a little early (Monday) and this week's a little late (Wednesday) - I usually seem to hit Tuesday.

No worries for having nothing to contribute to it! We were out yesterday visiting Mannheim (no steamrollers to be found, for a little "musical" joke). We also discovered that August is wasp season in Germany, isn't that fabulous!

Ago 9, 9:54 am

Yikes! to the wasps. Hard pass.

No steamrollers, but was there anything interesting in Mannheim?

Ago 9, 11:29 am

>104 norabelle414: Oops, cross-posted with you! I would not have believed anyone would let Trent Reznor near a Pixar movie, no!

Ago 9, 11:46 am

>106 katiekrug: Yeah apparently this is the cruel joke - you get some decent weather, and the world is full of wasps. I am not a fan. For the last week every time we open our windows we end up with wasps trying to get in, or actually being inside. Don't want the cats chasing those.

Anything interesting in Mannheim - they have an old water tower which is pretty cool, and they had some museums that looked promising but we didn't visit them this time. There is a Jesuit church from the 1700s (then bombed in the war and rebuilt using original materials as much as possible). We spent some time inside there sketching (we had intended to sketch the fountain at the Paradeplatz but wasps).

The fountain:

The inside of the Jesuitenkirche:

Ago 9, 12:32 pm

>102 ursula: Lol! You understand me. Sorry about the wasps. We had a yellowjacket nest in our wall a few years ago and it took the removal guy three visits to get rid of them entirely. They were very persistent!

Ago 9, 12:34 pm

That ceiling is beautiful.

Ago 10, 1:45 am

>109 curioussquared: It's like the yellowjacket story ... but over the whole country. As soon as the weather starts sucking again they'll be gone. 🙄

>110 katiekrug: The outside was very typical German church, with those small onion domes.

Ago 10, 1:58 am

The fountain was kind of wild. Each of the four sides had someone wrestling a fish, two of them were women and two were satyrs. The central part was full of all kinds of weird things, topped off with the grim reaper with a scythe.

Ago 11, 4:00 am

No One Will Come Back for Us by Premee Mohamed

Short stories of speculative fiction, often involving old gods and Lovecraftian horrors. This collection seems to be pretty well-liked, and there were a couple of standouts to me (about an undersea lab, about a clueless reporter investigating a plague in Africa). But I rarely seem to really enjoy short story collections, so I am perhaps not a good barometer here, and it's unsurprising that I would rate it as "okay." If it looks like your kind of thing, go for it.

Ago 11, 7:53 am

>113 ursula: - Very much not my kind of thing so I will not go for it :)

Any fun weekend plans, Ursula?

Ago 11, 9:49 am

>114 katiekrug: We might go to Saarbrücken? I went there in May for a meetup, but Morgan was sick and didn't come along. So we can go see it together. It's the capital of the state of Saarland, which I've seen people joke is the Alabama of Germany.

Ago 11, 9:58 am

Fingers crossed for no wasps!

Ago 12, 11:59 am

We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson

First line(s): My name is Mary Katherine Blackwood. I am eighteen years old, and I live with my sister Constance.

I may be among the last people to read this! I'm not going to say anything at all about the plot, but I'm going to say that 1. revisiting that first sentence made me realize that Mary Katherine was much older than I thought she was through the reading of the book (she read around 14 to me) and 2. I'm betting Shirley Jackson didn't like her neighbors much.

Quote: When Jim Donell thought of something to say he said it as often and in as many ways as possible, perhaps because he had very few ideas and had to wring each one dry.

Also read by Shirley Jackson:
The Haunting of Hill House
The Lottery/Adventures of the Demon Lover
The Road through the Wall

Ago 12, 12:01 pm

>116 katiekrug: No wasps because it was rainy, stormy, windy, crappy weather!

We didn't go to Saarbrücken though because we were getting a delivery of cat food and Rollo seems under the weather, so we wanted to keep an eye on him. He didn't want to eat his meat at all this morning, which is highly weird for him. He's been lethargic and not interested in eating all day. Hopefully he starts perking up soon.

Ago 12, 10:06 pm

>117 ursula: sorry to hear that Rollo is not feeling well. Hope he is better soon.

Editado: Ago 14, 10:16 am

Weekly 5x5

Big Lupu - 22 Pistepirkko [Finnish rock] (self pick, recommendation from pen pal)
Licensed to Ill - Beastie Boys [hip hop] (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)
Random Access Memories - Daft Punk [electronic] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
Why Would I Watch - Hot Mulligan [emo] (new releases) +
Spare Ribs - Sleaford Mods [post-punk] (2021 lists)

Tapestry - Carole King [pop] (1001 Albums list)
Come on Over - Shania Twain [country] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list) - partial album
Full Moon Fever - Tom Petty [rock] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
Coat of Many Colors - Dolly Parton [country] (1001 Albums list) +
Entering Heaven Alive - Jack White [rock] (2022 lists) +

Road to the Riches - Kool G Rap & DJ Polo [hip hop] (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)
Bleach - Nirvana [grunge] (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)
Live at the Regal - BB King [blues] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
She’s So Unusual - Cyndi Lauper [pop rock] (200 Best Albums of the 80s list) +
American Pie - Don McLean [folk rock] (1001 Albums list)

living in memory of something sweet - dreamTX [post-post-rock] (new releases) +
Rage Against the Machine - Rage Against the Machine [rap rock] (TrebleZine 100 all-time favorite albums list)
The Drift - Scott Walker [avant-garde] (TrebleZine 100 all-time favorite albums list)
Stephen Stills - Stephen Stills [folk] (self pick, relisten on vinyl)
Intimate Immensity - Tomaga [alternative/indie] (2021 lists)

Kirtan: Turiya Sings - Alice Coltrane [new age/devotional] (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)
If I Could Only Remember My Name - David Crosby [psychedelic folk] (1001 Albums list)
Rust Never Sleeps - Neil Young & Crazy Horse [rock] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list) - vinyl
So - Peter Gabriel [art pop] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
Tago Mago - Can [experimental rock] (1001 Albums list)

******Notes on this week:
  • Below the chart
    Youth of America - Wipers (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)
    Deep England - NYX & Gazelle Twin (2021 lists) deeply weird, I loved this +
    she / her / black bitch - Doechii (2022 lists)
    MAXIDENT - Stray Kids (2022 lists)

    Skipped for recency:
    Cosmo’s Factory - Creedence Clearwater Revival (1001 Albums list)

  • Relistening to stuff from years ago, like the Beastie Boys, you realize how many of the lyrics were really problematic. I know they disowned some of this album in later years ("Girls", I'm thinking of specifically), but still. And boy, the casual homophobia on Kool G Rap & DJ Polo is very of its time but yikes. I could not force myself through the entirety of the Shania Twain album. The lyrics are just so awful and the music doesn't improve it. As for Don McLean I have never been a hater of the song "American Pie" but I've also never listened to this entire album. Blergh. Also, there's another song on there that is literally just "American Pie" with slightly different accompaniment.

  • I loved the Hot Mulligan album, but I'm conflicted because I literally hate all their song titles. It leaves me feeling conflicted. Tapestry is one of those albums that I always like when I listen to it, but I never feel compelled to actually play it. Dolly Parton is a national treasure. I liked the dreamTX album even if I don't pretend to know what "post-post-rock" would mean. We already know Peter Gabriel is a favorite of mine, and even if this album is not my personal favorite, I admit it's a pretty good one! Morgan and I kind of differ on what we think of Jack White's solo work but we aligned here, which is that this album felt pretty safe. It's pretty good overall but it lacks some of that unexpectedness I enjoy.

  • In the category of "really weird shit I listened to this week" I have Scott Walker, NYX & Gazelle Twin and Can. The first one, I need to listen to again and try to actually process, the second one I loved and the third one was not my kind of weird.

  • Back in the day I was a huge Rage Against the Machine fan. I got my brother into them when he was around 14 I guess and I took him to a wild show of theirs at the Oakland Coliseum when he was 16. Good times! I still know this album by heart.
    And speaking of shows, Tom Petty was my first concert ever, also at the Oakland Coliseum. Well, and the Heartbreakers (it was on the Into the Great Wide Open tour).

+ = added to my library
♡ = already in my library

Ago 14, 4:29 am

>119 Kristelh: He seems to have bounced back. I think the last can of meat didn't agree with him for whatever reason. He slept the whole day and by evening when we opened a different variety for him, he was back to his usual self, so that's good!

Ago 14, 6:43 am

Sorry the weekend plans didn't pan out but glad to hear Rollo is feeling better!

Ago 15, 2:45 am

Ago 15, 2:49 am

Morgan has another mathematician visiting the department for a few days, he just arrived yesterday. We first met him in 2013 when we were at a conference in Italy, I believe. He was a PhD student then. Anyway, he's German and we've run into him over the years here and there; I enjoy his company quite a lot. Yesterday we met him for coffee when he was waiting to be able to check in to his hotel, and then we had dinner together.

We went to a place with specialties from this region (he is from a neighboring state but had a craving for the local food) because he has accepted a job in China and so I'm guessing German food will be in short supply for the next few years. A good time was had by all.

Ago 15, 3:14 am

Did I forget to mention what I had? I did. I had Leberknödel, which are essentially liver meatballs, with sauerkraut and potatoes.

Ago 15, 6:47 am

>125 ursula:, definitely sounds like German food. and you liked it?

Ago 15, 11:24 am

>96 ursula: BB for me

>108 ursula: What a beautiful ceiling! Churches always have wonderful art.

>125 ursula: Sauerkraut is a tricky thing. Many just heat up a can and that tastes awful. My dad used to make a roux and cook the sauerkraut with bay leaves, garlic and juniper berries. He also would cook off a smoked pork hock and use that water to cook the sauerkraut in as well. Tastes great and not as sour.

Happy Tuesday!

Ago 16, 3:07 am

>126 Kristelh: I did, I love liver in all forms.

>127 figsfromthistle: Interested to see your thoughts (eventually)!

Honestly, I don't know that I've eaten much sauerkraut in my life. Maybe once the first time we visited Germany over 10 years ago. Not living here, not having German ancestry, it doesn't come up often. But it was good in this restaurant!

Ago 17, 11:32 am

The Memory Police by Yoko Ogawa

First line: I sometimes wonder what was disappeared first -- among all the things that have vanished from the island.

This was an odd little book. As the title and the first line work together to tell you, things disappear from the island where the narrator lives, and the Memory Police enforce those disappearances. But when things disappear, the objects themselves don't immediately disappear, more just the idea of them. For example, if photographs disappear, the photos are still there on the table, but people no longer feel any significance or tie to them. They then need to actually take them to be disposed of, and the Memory Police will look for and punish violations to the policy.

This story is interspersed with chapters of the novel the narrator is writing, about a young woman in a typing class.

As seems to often be the case with Japanese novels, this is a quiet, interior sort of story and the pace, as well as the characters' actions, may occasionally annoy you. Generally I'm okay with that, but I did wonder a couple of times when things were going to get shaken up. Much to think about here, though.

Ago 20, 8:39 am

Strange Weather in Tokyo by Hiromi Kawakami

First line: His full name was Mr. Harutsuna Matsumoto, but I called him "Sensei."

Our narrator is a woman in her late 30s. She's got a job, has had some relationships, but is by herself a lot of her time and I guess wonders if that's all there is. One day she's at a restaurant and she's seated next to an old high school teacher of hers. They talk a little, but mostly they drink.

It becomes a regular occurrence, meeting each other at this restaurant and drinking, although never with intentionally-made plans. And then she starts to wonder if there is, or could be, something more to their relationship.

I don't care about the age difference. I'm a little squicked out by her calling him "Sensei" while also wondering if maybe they should kiss, but that might be a cultural thing. I'm highly concerned by the industrial amount of drinking they seem to do, quite matter-of-factly. Not my favorite read; I guess one could interpret it as a sweet story if you squint and ignore the state of their livers.

Ago 22, 12:55 pm

Weekly 5x5

Speakerboxxx/The Love Below - Outkast [hip hop] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
Las Ruinas - Rico Nasty [hip hop] (2022 lists)
The Writing’s on the Wall - Destiny’s Child [r&b/pop] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
Decoration Day - Drive-By Truckers [southern rock] (2003 list) +
Last Splash - The Breeders [alternative rock] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list) +

the record - boygenius [indie] (best of 2023 so far list)
Great Spans of Muddy Time - William Doyle [alternative] (2021 lists) +
Apollo: Atmospheres and Soundtracks - Brian Eno [ambient] (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)
Pictures at an Exhibition - Emerson, Lake & Palmer [classical crossover] (1001 Albums list)
Neon Blue - Joshua Hedley [country] (2022 lists)

Praise a God Who Chews But Which Does Not Consume - Yves Tumor [electronica/psychedelic] (best of 2023 so far list)
Post - Björk [art pop] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
Supernova - Nova Twins [punk] (2021 lists)
Squeeze - SASAMI [nu-metal/industrial] (2022 lists)
TEWARI - Scotch Rolex [electronic] (2022 lists)

Van Halen - Van Halen [rock] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list) +
Lucky for You - Bully [alternative rock] (best of 2023 so far list) +
living in memory of something sweet - dreamTX [shoegaze/indie rock] (2023 releases) +
Omens - Lamb of God [metal] (2022 lists)
Altars of Madness - Morbid Angel [death metal] (200 Best Albums of the 80s list) +

Townes Van Zandt - Townes Van Zandt [folk] (TrebleZine 100 all-time favorite albums list) +
Weezer - Weezer [rock] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
Madman Across the Water - Elton John [pop] (1001 Albums list)
A Nod Is as Good as a Wink … To a Blind Horse - Faces [rock] (1001 Albums list)
Teenage Head - Flamin’ Groovies [garage rock] (1001 Albums list) +

******Notes on this week:
  • Below the chart:
    Tarkus - Emerson, Lake & Palmer (1001 Albums list)
    Live! - Fela Kuti with Ginger Baker (1001 Albums list)
    Maggot Brain - Funkadelic (1001 Albums list)
    Odyshape - The Raincoats (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)
    Ride the Lightning - Metallica (TrebleZine 100 all-time favorite albums list) +
    Henki - Richard Dawson & Circle (2021 lists)

  • And with that, I’m done with the last 2021 list! It’s like a miracle. Other progress notes: I’ve finished 217 from the 1001 list, 212 on the RS 500, 58 of the TrebleZine all-time 100 list, and 106 of the 200 top 80s albums. Making definite progress all around.

    Also I’ll mention it here even though it really belongs to next week, though I’m sure I’ll forget about it: I am done with Rolling Stone and their insistence on box sets when they can - I get it, you love everything oh my goodness they’re like my children how can I choose? But come on. I will not be listening to Merle Haggard - Down Every Road (1962-1994).

    I’ve added the “best so far of 2023” list from Pitchfork, although I’m not working my way through it methodically, just using it to revisit things I like or check out things that interest me. I’ll get to everything else on the end of the year list, assuming they make it to that one.

  • Decoration Day by the Drive-By Truckers was new to me. It's on the 2003 list but I was curious about this album anyway because it was when Jason Isbell joined the band (he only belonged briefly), and I love his solo work so wanted to check out this one. There's some really great story-telling here.
    I'd never listened to Morbid Angel although my ex was super into all of the bands like that. This is their first album; pretty good, although Morgan said he prefers the second one.
    Ride the Lightning is my preferred Metallica album. I know this thing by heart. I've seen Metallica play 3 times, including once in an acoustic set at Neil Young's Bridge School Benefit. And yet this album wasn't in my library - I have periodically gone through and deleted things that I like but don't necessarily see myself listening to anytime soon. Then I guess it comes up on a list and it gets added again. The joys of digital media!

  • I'm violently opposed to Björk, but when I started this album I thought maybe I'd misjudged her. The first song was pretty good, honestly. But then the rest of it descended into Björkdom - grunts and wails and musical theater. If you're into that, cool. It's not for me.
    Weezer is just frequently so problematic, and that's before you get into even talking about Rivers Cuomo personally. But they did write some catchy songs. I saw them live in 2008 I think - free tickets and my brother wanted to go.
    For me, there's about half of a brilliant album on Maggot Brain, but the parts I don't like, I really don't like, so *shrug*.

+ = added to my library
♡ = already in my library

Ago 23, 2:42 am

Everyone in My Family Has Killed Someone by Benjamin Stevenson

First line(s): Everyone in my family has killed someone. Some of us, the high achievers, have killed more than once.

And so begins a sort of simultaneous recreation of a golden-age mystery and a takedown of one. A family gathers at a ski resort in Australia. It's a family reunion, precipitated by a member being released from jail (for killing someone, naturally). They are snowed in, and the deaths begin.

The narrator writes how-to-write-mysteries books (self-published) and promises to be a reliable narrator, and to provide all the clues necessary to the reader. It's very meta, among other things reminding the reader that if it's before 80-something percent in the book, there's no way the actual murderer has been found.

I liked the tone of it quite a bit for the first third, although humor does not always land well for me in general. But then it wore on me a bit, and then the resolution and reveals dragged on for longer than I would have preferred (but again, this is pretty standard for the type of novel he's spoofing/doing an homage to). You can't just point at someone, say "he did it!" and end the book, I suppose. So it ends up in the "better than ok but not great" area.

Ago 23, 2:42 am

Oh, and that was my 50th book. So I'm doing okay this year!

Ago 23, 8:47 am

>132 ursula: - That sounds like it could be fun, but I worry the things that grated on you would land the same way for me...

Congrats on 50!

Ago 23, 12:36 pm

I agree with Katie -- love the concept but I feel like I would have the same issues as you. But hooray, 50!

Ago 23, 3:37 pm

Congrats on 50, Ursula

Ago 24, 3:12 am

>134 katiekrug:, >135 curioussquared: Yeah, I want to say I'm probably just extra sensitive, but it's so hard to know!

>134 katiekrug:, >135 curioussquared:, >136 Kristelh: Thanks for the congrats! This year didn't start out looking so great for reading totals (I guess I had a couple of other things going on) but I'm happy with where I am now.

Editado: Ago 27, 11:56 am

>130 ursula: I liked Strange Weather in Tokyo very much when I read it, Ursula. I think it's becauser I like the understated way stories evolve in contemporary Japanese fiction. I can see something like this truly happening. I, too, wondered at the end if there would be more in the future of this relationship.

In reading manga, I have often found the technique of just writing about a "slice of life" very interesting. I think it could also be applied to this novel.

I guess one could interpret it as a sweet story if you squint and ignore the state of their livers.


Ago 27, 2:35 am

>138 SqueakyChu: At the end? I mean, she wrote it looking back after his death. As for how Japanese fiction tends to be, I agree. I've read a number of Japanese books this year and I feel like most of my comments about them start off with some variation on "this is a quiet book" or "not a lot happens in this book".

Editado: Ago 27, 11:57 am

>139 ursula: I forgot that very end. I just remember, while reading the book, wondering if that relationship was ever going to go further.

I think it’s just that quiet style of writing that attracts me to contemporary Japanese fiction. I also wonder if it might be something about the Japanese culture or the language itself that causes this to happen in Japanese novels

Ago 28, 3:06 am

I think it's definitely related to the culture, although I can't judge about the language. It's an interesting thought.

Editado: Ago 31, 11:24 am

Weekly 5x5

Third - Big Star [rock] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
Natural Brown Prom Queen - Sudan Archives [r&b] (2022 lists)
Get Rich or Die Tryin’ - 50 Cent [hip hop] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
The Diary of Alicia Keys - Alicia Keys [r&b] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
Bad Girls - Donna Summer [disco] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)

Shaft - Isaac Hayes [soundtrack] (1001 Albums list)
Californication - Red Hot Chili Peppers [rock] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
The Loneliest Time - Carly Rae Jepsen [pop] (2022 lists)
Voodoo - D’Angelo [r&b] (TrebleZine 100 all-time favorite albums list)
MTV Unplugged in New York - Nirvana [rock] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list) +

The Window - Ratboys [indie rock] (new releases) +
Harry’s House - Harry Styles [pop] (2022 lists)
Hold the Girl - Rina Sawayama [pop] (2022 lists)
Aqualung - Jethro Tull [progressive rock] (1001 Albums list)
Post-American - MSPAINT [experimental/alternative rock]

The Unraveling of PUPTHEBAND - PUP [punk] (2022 lists) +
Separation Sunday - The Hold Steady [indie rock] (self pick)
No Highs - Tim Hecker [ambient] (Morgan’s pick, also new releases)
Faith - George Michael [pop] (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)
Nilsson Schmilsson - Harry Nilsson [rock] (1001 Albums list)

Pearl - Janis Joplin [rock] (1001 Albums list) +
Imagine - John Lennon [rock] (1001 Albums list)
Blue - Joni Mitchell [singer/songwriter] (1001 Albums list)
So Tonight That I Might See - Mazzy Star [indie] (Morgan’s pick, 90s list)
Death by Tickling - Scotch Rolex & Shackleton [electronic] (new releases)

******Notes on this week:
  • Below the chart:
    Furling - Meg Baird
    The Modern Lovers - The Modern Lovers (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list) +
    Led Zeppelin IV - Led Zeppelin (1001 Albums list)
    Songs of Love and Hate - Leonard Cohen (1001 Albums list) +
    nature morte - Big Brave
    Different Trains - Kronos Quartet/Pat Metheny (Steve Reich) (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)

    Skipped for recency:
    Mr. Tambourine Man - The Byrds (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
    In the Wee Small Hours - Frank Sinatra (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)

  • Let's see here - this week I'm all about the Ratboys album, love it. The title track is amazing, drop everything and listen to it on YouTube: The Window.

  • I also enjoyed the PUP album, as the name suggests it's a concept album about the demise of the band. Kind of a descendant of Pink Floyd's "Welcome to the Machine"/"Have a Cigar".
    Nirvana Unplugged is a live album I can listen to, and that's even considering I haven't listened to the studio albums much at all in the last 10 or so years. Kurt comes across so personable here.
    Californication was the last Chili Peppers album I really listened to - hearing it again now I'm reminded that Anthony Kiedis writes some of the truly most ridiculous lyrics (negative). The flip side of that is Carly Rae Jepsen - she makes me laugh out loud with some of her lyrics (positive).
    The Modern Lovers albums is one that Morgan really loves, so I was familiar with it. "Pablo Picasso never got called an asshole" comes up in conversation more than you might think it would.

  • I do not get the appeal of Blue.

  • I'm short on 80s albums this week (again) because I'm holding off waiting for Morgan to catch up a bit.

+ = added to my library
♡ = already in my library

Set 2, 6:10 pm

I was amused by the juxtaposition of Days at the Morisaki Bookshop and The Golden Bowl. Quite a stylistic and thematic contrast, I imagine.

Set 3, 2:27 am

>143 ffortsa: I try to read books that are pretty different from each other at the same time. Of course with something as long as The Golden Bowl, it overlaps a lot of other books!

Set 3, 2:48 am

Devil House by John Darnielle

First line: Mom called yesterday to ask if I was ready to come home yet; I went directly to San Francisco from college, and I've been in Milpitas for five years now, but she holds fast to her theory that eventually I'm coming back to San Luis Obispo.

The "Devil House" of the title is the site of a double murder in Milpitas. The building where it happened had several different lives; at the time of the murder it was an out-of-business adult store. At the time when the story picks up, it's a home where a true-crime writer wants to live to get close to the material for the book he's writing about those murders. I've deleted about 4 attempts at writing something else so I'm just going to say - it's about his research for the Devil House book, and it's about his previous true crime bestseller, The White Witch of Morro Bay, which was turned into a movie. And that's it for the boring (and impossible) plot synopsis. What I really want to say is:

This is the third book John Darnielle has written, and the third one I've read by him (earlier books were: Wolf in White Van and Universal Harvester). What all three books have in common is that you are never reading the book you think you're reading. It's such a strange experience, and especially to have it still catch me by surprise in the third book.

Set 5, 4:25 am

Weekly 5x5

Are You Experienced - The Jimi Hendrix Experience [rock] (TrebleZine 100 all-time favorite albums list)
Zach Bryan - Zach Bryan [country] (new releases) +
Lost & Found - Sean Shibe [classical crossover] (2022 lists)
Blue Rev - Alvvays [indie pop] (2022 releases, vinyl)
Golden Hour - Kacey Musgraves [country] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)

Ashley McBryde Presents: Lindeville - Ashley McBryde [country] (2022 lists)
Dear Catastrophe Waitress - Belle and Sebastian [indie pop] (Morgan’s pick, 90s list)
Tango in the Night - Fleetwood Mac [rock] (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)
Entertainment! - Gang of Four [post-punk] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
Friends That Break Your Heart - James Blake [alternative] (2021 review)

What’s the 411? - Mary J. Blige [r&b] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
The Bends - Radiohead [alternative/britpop] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
Sail Away - Randy Newman [pop/rock] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
A Southern Gothic - Adia Victoria [blues] (2021 review)
Observatory - Aeon Station [indie rock] (2021 review)

Heaven or Las Vegas - Cocteau Twins [dream pop] (TrebleZine 100 all-time favorite albums list) +
Reckoning - REM [alternative rock] (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)
Electric Warrior - T. Rex [glam rock] (1001 Albums list)
Surf’s Up - Beach Boys [rock] (1001 Albums list)
Spiral - Darkside [electronica] (2021 review)

Five of Cups - Holy Wave [psychedelic rock] (Morgan’s pick, new releases)
What’s Going On - Marvin Gaye [soul] (1001 Albums list)
Alchemy for the Dead - Spotlights [sludgegaze] (2023 so far list)
This Stupid World - Yo La Tengo [indie rock] (2023 so far list)
Spirit Exit - Caterina Barbieri [electronic] (2022 lists)

******Notes on this week:
  • Below the chart:
    Every Picture Tells a Story - Rod Stewart (1001 Albums list)
    Histoire de Melody Nelson - Serge Gainsbourg (1001 Albums list)
    At Fillmore East - The Allman Brothers Band (1001 Albums list)
    Houses of the Holy - Led Zeppelin (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
    Curtis - Curtis Mayfield (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)

    Skipped for recency:
    There’s a Riot Goin’ On - Sly & The Family Stone (1001 Albums list)

  • Sweetheart of the Rodeo - The Byrds (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
    White Light/White Heat - The Velvet Underground (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)

    Skipped for refusal to give even a fraction of a cent per play:
    Yeezus - Kanye West (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
  • You may notice a new source up there: 2021 review. Morgan and I have decided to try to go back to our 2021 added albums and try to figure out our top 10s for that year. I’m still early into it and I’m not really formulating a top 10 yet but at this point 3 of this week’s listens might find their way there: Darkside, Adia Victoria and Aeon Station.

  • Zach Bryan released another album, and it’s great. American Heartbreak was good, but it was a 3-album deal and that’s a lot to take in. This is a reasonable 16 songs and I really like it. The Caterina Barbieri was interesting in a good way.

  • My thoughts on The Allman Brothers: I really liked the instrumental song (In Memory of Elizabeth Reed) but I did not need a 23 minute version of Whipping Post, or a 19 minute version of You Don’t Love Me. I just am not that into random guitar noodling for that long. I do enjoy extended versions of songs in concert, but it’s very dependent on how it’s done. I know that when I saw Smashing Pumpkins, they did an extended version of Heavy Metal Machine and it was great, but it was more involving the full band and it was maybe 11 or 12 minutes long. So I remain unconvinced about live albums.

  • The Beach Boys - Surf’s Up was the worst thing I put in my ear holes this week. (And I hate Radiohead! But this album was mostly lacking the stuff that most makes me hate them. For Morgan, the lack of all that is why he finds The Bends an uninspiring album. For me, it made it mostly listenable.)

+ = added to my library
♡ = already in my library

Also, we found a cool record store in Saarbrücken! We came away with the Alvvays record:

Set 5, 8:05 am

>145 ursula: - That's quite a cover!

>146 ursula: - I have a feeling I'd like Kacey Musgraves but I never get around to making an effort to listen. This is true of a lot of music...

Set 6, 3:44 am

>147 katiekrug: It is! I love the cover.

I like Golden Hour a lot, it's her "in love" record, followed by her "going through a divorce" record 😬, which I liked less. Oh, and Same Trailer Different Park (her first one) was good too. You know, for when you get around to it, haha.

Set 7, 4:01 am

A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian by Marina Lewycka


I just kept thinking "Is this supposed to be funny? She can't mean this to be funny, right? And yet it doesn't work as a serious book either...."

Set 7, 12:37 pm

>149 ursula: One of the rare books I DNF Ursula. I know loads of folk loved it.

Set 8, 6:29 am

>150 Caroline_McElwee: Not just me, then! I finished it because it was on some version of the 1001 Books list, although when I looked afterwards it appears it was put on in 2008 maybe? and then immediately removed in the next revision.

Set 9, 1:11 am

>149 ursula:. I really liked this one, and thought it was very funny! Maybe I have a warped sense of humor? Also it was good for learning about Ukrainian history, and also tractors.

Set 9, 2:26 am

>152 banjo123: Humor is maybe the most subjective thing out there, so definitely a YMMV situation. Personally, I have laughed at some black humor, some darkly satiric things etc, but I just couldn't find any humor in a woman shoving an 84 year old man and locking him in a room. I think it's down to a tone that didn't work for me at all.

Set 9, 8:23 pm

> 153. It's been a while since I read it, so the details are a bit fuzzy. But I've worked with lots of immigrants from the former Soviet Union, and that piece rang true.

Set 11, 6:05 am

>154 banjo123: Fair enough! :)

Set 11, 6:05 am

Weekly 5x5

Double Nickels on the Dime - Minutemen [punk] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
Check Your Head - Beastie Boys [hip hop] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
Wowee Zowee - Pavement [indie rock] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
Help! - The Beatles [rock] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
Black Radio III - Robert Glasper [jazz/soul/hip hop/r&b] (2022 lists)

Trafalgar - Bee Gees [soft rock] (1001 Albums list)
Ghost Song - Cecile McLorin Salvant [jazz] (2022 lists)
Appetite for Destruction - Guns N’ Roses [rock] (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)
Mythopoetics - Half Waif [synth pop] (2021 review)
Meteora - Linkin Park [nu metal] (Morgan’s pick - 90s list)

imagine naked! - OHYUNG [ambient] (2022 lists) +
Dartland - Worst Party Ever [emo] (2021 review)
Chemtrails Over the Country Club - Lana Del Rey [pop] (2021 review)
My Morning Jacket - My Morning Jacket [psychedelic rock] (Morgan’s pick - 2021 review)
This House - Pale Blue Eyes [indie] (new releases)

A Billion Little Lights - Wild Pink [indie] (2021 review)
In These Silent Days - Brandi Carlile [singer/songwriter] (2021 review)
Blue Bell Knoll - Cocteau Twins [dream pop] (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)
Ay! - Lucrecia Dalt [avant garde] (2022 lists)
L.A. Woman - The Doors [rock] (1001 Albums list)

Sticky Fingers - The Rolling Stones [rock] (1001 Albums list)
School’s Out - Alice Cooper [rock] (1001 Albums list)
Infinite Granite - Deafheaven [shoegaze] (2021 review)
Power, Corruption & Lies - New Order [ new wave] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
Who’s Next - The Who [rock] (1001 Albums list)

******Notes on this week:
  • Below the chart:
    The Yes Album - Yes (1001 Albums list)
    Fragile - Yes (1001 Albums list)
    Wish You Were Here - Pink Floyd (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
    Sons Of - Sam Prekop & John McEntire (2022 lists)
    Flowers & Dead Souls - Acid Rooster (new releases)

    Skipped for recency:
    Let’s Stay Together - Al Green (1001 Albums list)
    The Stone Roses - The Stone Roses (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)
    Songs from the Big Chair - Tears for Fears (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)

  • It's weird, doing this review of 2021 raises the proportion of albums I'm pretty familiar with and makes me feel like I have less to say sometimes? Even though in theory the 2021 albums are ones that I mostly know I like. Anyway, of the 2021 stuff: still love Half Waif, this is a strong contender to actually end up on my top 10 for that year. Did one of the 2 albums Lana Del Rey released that year, we'll see which one I end up liking better. Still love the Deafheaven album, even though I know it was sort of a less-liked one for the established fanbase since it was a jump from black metal to shoegaze.

  • Everything else: I think I still liked the other Cocteau Twins album (Heaven or Las Vegas) better than this one, but this was pretty good too. Funny that I never listened to them at the time.

  • Never been a big fan of Yes; these were okay. And I knew a couple more songs than I would have expected. I also am not a fan of Pink Floyd, but this is the one album I have in my library, the one I'll actually listen to.

+ = added to my library
♡ = already in my library

Editado: Set 11, 6:49 am

>156 ursula: I really like the Who album and I have fond memories of Help! as my Dad used to have an 8-Track of it and it was one of less than a dozen he had so it got played A LOT in the car.

Not familiar with Deafheaven and will go and give them a listen.

Set 11, 12:17 pm

Honeybees and Distant Thunder by Riku Onda

First line: When was that memory from? I'm not sure.

The backdrop for this novel is the Yoshigae piano competition. The pianists come from a variety of backgrounds - Aya was a child prodigy who walked away (literally - she left the building right before a performance) and this is her first appearance since; Akashi thought a life in music was impossible for him now that he's married and has a different life; Jin is a young enigma, the student of a maestro who didn't take on many students.

I think if you're very familiar with classical music, this is probably a more enriching read. The author talks a lot (a lot) about the imagery each pianist is seeing as they play, and what the audience is imagining as they listen. How nature and music inform, influence and intersect with each other is a major theme. It's interesting because after reading This Is What It Sounds Like I know that I'm definitely more responsive to "below the neck" music, rather than the "above the neck" style of classical, so I want to listen to some of the pieces mentioned and think about the descriptions given. I already listened to Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto no. 2, which was one of the pieces in the finals (the finalists each had to play a concerto).

Anyway, aside from all of that, it was a different setting from anything else I've read, and the variety of views on what makes a musician were thought-provoking. It was a sort of sweet story overall mostly focusing on a small group of contestants and a couple of the judges. You really do have to have a pretty high tolerance for flights of fancy inspired by the music, though.

Set 11, 12:41 pm

>157 PaulCranswick: The Who album of course has a couple of their all-timers. I'll be curious how you get on with Deafheaven if you give it a try. :)

Set 11, 6:08 pm

>159 ursula: I really like the track "Great Mass of Color", Ursula. Atmospheric.

Set 12, 2:38 am

>160 PaulCranswick: That's my favorite song on the album, good choice!

Set 12, 9:17 pm

>161 ursula: Thanks for putting me onto them, Ursula. I have been listening to them quite a bit over the last couple of days. Pretty good.

Set 18, 10:46 am

Five Little Indians by Michelle Good

First line: Clara stood behind Mariah's cabin, the late summer warmth rising from the soil.

The five characters in the title all attended a residential school for First Nations children in Canada. I think we're all pretty sure how that experience was for them. The novel, however, focuses almost entirely on their time after leaving the school. There are some scenes set in the school, and there are some flashbacks, but I appreciated the author's choice not to make the actual scenes of abuse a large part of the book. There are aftereffects from abuse in anyone's life, but the addition of being separate from family and culture until you eventually get back out into a world you don't know is heartbreaking.

I wouldn't say the entire book worked for me, but I appreciated that the characters had room to breathe, meaning that not everyone had to have a redemptive arc.

"They call us survivors."
"I don't think I survived. Do you?"

Set 18, 11:23 am

Weekly 5x5

My Life in the Bush of Ghosts - Brian Eno & David Byrne [experimental] (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)
Dookie - Green Day [punk] (Morgan's pick, 90s list)
E2-E4 - Manuel Göttsching [electronic] (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)
DUSK - Plasma Canvas [punk] (new releases)
A Hard Day’s Night - The Beatles [rock] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)

Shine a Light - Constantines [indie rock] (self pick for reasons I no longer remember)
Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo! - Devo [new wave] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
Little Oblivions - Julien Baker [indie rock] (2021 review)
Lucinda Williams - Lucinda Williams [alternative country] (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)
Dial M for Meds - Taking Meds [pop punk] (new releases)

American Gothic - David Ackles [singer-songwriter] (1001 Albums list)
Hunky Dory - David Bowie [rock] (1001 Albums list)
The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars - David Bowie [rock] (1001 Albums list)
Nacarile - ILE [pop] (2022 lists)
Afrique Victime - Mdou Moctar [African] (2021 review)

Tracy Chapman - Tracy Chapman [folk rock] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
Black Sabbath, Vol. 4 - Black Sabbath [heavy metal] (1001 Albums list) +
Marcus Garvey - Burning Spear [reggae] (1001 Albums list)
The Hissing of Summer Lawns - Joni Mitchell [jazz pop] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
HEY WHAT - Low [experimental rock/slowcore] (2021 review)

the awful things we’ve done - Peregrine [emo] (self pick) +
Cut - The Slits [punk] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
Marigold - Alex Isley & Jack Dine [r&b] (2022 lists)
Alvvays - Alvvays [indie pop] (self pick) +
Everything - Blankenberge [shoegaze] (2021 review)

******Notes on this week:
  • Below the chart:
    Machine Head - Deep Purple (1001 Albums list)
    White Light - Gene Clark (1001 Albums list)
    Head Hunters - Herbie Hancock (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
    The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady - Charles Mingus (TrebleZine 100 all-time favorite albums list)
    The Number of the Beast - Iron Maiden (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)
    Coffin for Head of State - Fela Kuti (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)
    Hats - The Blue Nile (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)
    Anyways, Life’s Great… - GloRilla (2022 lists)
    Leaving None but Small Birds - The Body & Big Brave (2021 review)
    Fragments of a Dying Star - Dispirited Spirits (2021 review)
    CARNAGE - Nick Cave & Warren Ellis (2021 review)

    Skipped for recency:
    Superfly - Curtis Mayfield (1001 Albums list)
    Pearl - Janis Joplin (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
    Coat of Many Colors - Dolly Parton (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
    The Piper at the Gates of Dawn - Pink Floyd (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
    Something/Anything? - Todd Rundgren (TrebleZine 100 all-time favorite albums list)

  • A fair number of list albums I've already listened to at some point, whether for a list or not. Morgan and I discussed whether we think Hunky Dory or Ziggy Stardust is the better Bowie album - he says he would have said Hunky Dory hands down but after re-listening he's more on the fence. I'm team Ziggy. Black Sabbath, Vol. 4 makes the argument for piles of cocaine as a recording aid. I feel like I enjoyed this Joni Mitchell more than Blue? But I'm not going to put either of them on again so it's probably irrelevant.

    I had forgotten just how much I used to listen to that Tracy Chapman album in 1989 - I had it on cassette. But considering how well I knew it now, it's clear that I listened to it a lot!

  • The review of 2021 albums continues with at least one album I'm sure will make my top 10: Low. Didn't fall in love with either of the new releases but they were both fine. Really liked both the Peregrine and the debut album from Alvvays.

  • Funny little thing that came up - I had never listened to The Blue Nile before this week. Shortly after listening to that, I saw someone writing about how The 1975 lifted the song "The Downtown Lights" and repurposed it into their song "Love It If We Made It" and ... indeed!

+ = added to my library
♡ = already in my library

Set 22, 4:05 am

Yesterday we visited Trier.

One of the places we saw was the Konstantin-Basilikum, which was actually Constantine's throne room. It was built in 310 and is apparently the largest surviving single room not supported by columns.

It kind of made me laugh to see this because I've spent the last few years surrounded by all things Constantine and then here's this. Anyway, it was truly impressive - obviously not in decoration, but just in scale and solidity.

Set 22, 7:05 am

>163 ursula: This one has been on my shelf for a long time. Looks like a short read. I will have to give the beginning a try soon.

>165 ursula: Impressive, indeed! What a ceiling!

Happy Friday :)

Set 22, 8:10 pm

>164 ursula: But it does come down to that in the final analysis with Bowie doesn't it - a choice between those two brilliant albums. Some of his later stuff is good but those two albums are brilliant.

Set 23, 10:29 am

>167 PaulCranswick: And are you team Hunky Dory or team Ziggy?

Set 23, 10:47 am

>168 ursula: Very close to be fair but I am team Ziggy. Just a few more highlights to it, I think.

Set 24, 8:26 am

A Certain Hunger by Chelsea G. Summers

First line: They all look the same, hotel bars, even when they don't.

Our main character is a food critic. She is also a serial killer who eats part of her victims. She's telling her story from a prison, so we know right off the bat that she eventually gets caught.

The main thing I found interesting about this book is how deeply uncomfortable it can be reading a book like this written from a woman's point of view. There are so many topics, and methods of talking about those topics, that we're used to hearing from male characters but feel distasteful coming from women. Here you have the dispassionate, condescending attitude of a sociopath combined with frank descriptions of everything visceral - food, sex, murder, the workings of our bodies.

It was kind of interesting reading this while we are also working our way through the last season of Hannibal, because it kept making me think about the reception of a man who is convinced he knows everything versus a woman who feels the same way. Anyway, that may or may not be the point of the book, so let's just talk about it as a horror/thriller: it kept me turning the pages. It sometimes strained my disbelief-suspending muscles, but that's how it goes with this type of thing.

Quote: I thought it would be unappealing; rather, the hustle was energizing. I did some fancy strategizing and managed to monetize my blog - and can we for one moment ponder the violent deformity of that phrase, “monetize my blog”; it’s so grotesque that Diane Arbus could photograph it.

Set 24, 9:29 am

>170 ursula: - That one sounds interesting, in a kind of horrifying way. I'll check my library...

Set 25, 2:59 am

>171 katiekrug: Interesting in a horrifying way might be my favorite genre! The book seems to have gotten some buzz, so it may be widespread in libraries.

Set 25, 7:59 am

>172 ursula: - It is! Both my library systems have the e-book.

Set 25, 12:32 pm

>173 katiekrug: It's so interesting how the offerings vary from library to library. I use the libraries in Denver and Lexington, Kentucky and boy are the selections different! Along with what has long waiting lists or not.

Set 25, 12:36 pm

>174 ursula: - I can just imagine the difference! My two systems are the New York Public Library and my local one, which collaborates with about 40 others in the area on their Overdrive/Libby offerings. I can't complain - they are both pretty good. Sadly, the NYPL membership is actually TW's from when he worked in the city and now that he doesn't, I won't be able to renew it when it expires in a year or so *SOB*

Set 25, 1:42 pm

>170 ursula: I am also intrigued by this one but I think I'm probably too much of a wimp to pick it up. We'll see!

Set 26, 3:27 am

>175 katiekrug: That's a real shame about the NYPL, that's gotta be a good one to have.

I miss having access to the Fresno library (probably literally the only thing I miss about Fresno); they had a lot of graphic novels and more SE Asian authors. But they also cut off access after a year or two. Denver apparently has forever cards. They're good for a lot of literary fiction but often have pretty crazy wait times. And Lexington has a lot more YA and Black authors. Some of the lit fic books I want to read don't have a wait list at all. The downside is their longest loan time is 14 days (Denver's is 21 days).

>176 curioussquared: Yeahhhhh ... I think it's probably not awesome for wimps. ;) It's not extremely graphic but it is extremely frank.

Set 26, 3:57 am

Weekly 5x5

Clube da Esquina - Milton Nascimento & Lô Borges [MPB (Música popular brasilera)] (1001 Albums list)
Singles Going Steady - Buzzcocks [punk rock] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
Brand New Soul - Angel Du$t [alternative] (new releases) +
American Idiot - Green Day [pop punk] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
John Prine - John Prine [singer/songwriter] (1001 Albums list)

There Will Be Fireworks - There Will Be Fireworks [alternative] (self pick) +
The Meadowlands - Wrens [indie rock] (self pick) +
Mr. Money with the Vibe - Asake [afrobeats] (2022 lists)
#1 Record - Big Star [rock] (1001 Albums list)
In Utero - Nirvana [rock] (TrebleZine 100 all-time favorite albums list)

Laugh Track - The National [rock] (new releases) +
Music for the Masses - Depeche Mode [synth-pop] (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)
Transformer - Lou Reed [rock] (1001 Albums list)
The Land Is Inhospitable and So Are We - Mitski [indie] (new releases)
Rite of Suffering - Moon Phase [rock] (new releases)

Pink Moon - Nick Drake [folk] (1001 Albums list) +
This Nation’s Saving Grace - The Fall [post-punk] (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)
Illusory Walls - The World Is a Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid to Die [emo] (2021 review)
Harvest - Neil Young [rock] (1001 Albums list)
Crying, Laughing, Waving, Smiling - Slaughter Beach, Dog [folk] (Morgan’s pick, new releases)

Love Deluxe - Sade [r&b/azz] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
The 7th Hand - Immanuel Wilkins [jazz] (2022 lists)
Antisocialites - Alvvays [dream pop] (self pick)
Pool Kids // POOL - Pool Kids & POOL [emo/punk] (self pick)
Oblivion Will Own Me and Death Alone Will Love Me (Void Filler) - short fictions [emo] (new releases) / partial album

******Notes on this week:
  • Below the chart:
    Home Is Where the Music Is - Hugh Masekela (1001 Albums list)
    Honky Chateau - Elton John (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)

    Skipped for recency:
    The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan - Bob Dylan (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
    Whitney Houston - Whitney Houston (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)

  • Listened to the John Prine again even though it was previously on another list because I wanted to revisit it. And then there are Big Star, Paul Simon and Neil Young, all of which I know and love; I listened to them just for the pleasure of it.

  • I really liked the Nick Drake, again. (I had never in my life listened to any of his albums before so this is a discovery.) I hadn't listened to American Idiot in years and years - it has its interesting points, and some good songs. But I just don't know that there's any reason for 9 minute long progressive Green Day songs. Transformer was like a study in contrasts, it was almost exactly one incredible song alternating with one ridiculous/terrible song all the way through.

  • There Will Be Fireworks is a little like Frightened Rabbit with less self-loathing, and not just because of the heavy Scottish accent. I liked it. The National dropped a surprise second album for the year. Consensus seems to be that 1. this one is better than the first one and 2. you can combine them and cut out a lot to create a single good album. I dunno that I fully agree with that; I was one of the dozen or so people who liked the first album, and this one also seems pretty good. But I'll need to listen to it a couple of times to solidify my opinions. The new Mitski bored me to tears.

+ = added to my library
♡ = already in my library

Set 26, 7:05 am

>165 ursula: Wow. I'm sure it was amazing to stand inside Ursula.

Set 26, 7:40 am

>177 ursula: - I might be able to finagle NYPL access from a friend in the future. My local system only allows 14-day loans, which I find annoying, too.

It's so interesting how each system varies in what they offer.

Editado: Set 26, 10:30 am

Breasts and Eggs by Mieko Kawakami

First line: If you want to know how poor somebody was growing up, ask them how many windows they had.

Natsuko is a single woman, living in Tokyo and making her way as a novelist. She is originally from Osaka, and much is made about Osaka accents at various points in the story. In the first part, she is visited by her sister Makiko and Makiko's daughter Midoriko. Makiko wants to get breast augmentation surgery, Midoriko is suffering a teenage crisis, and Natsuko is simply adrift and unable to relate to either of them. Natsuko wants to have a child, but she doesn't have any real options since Japan's laws about adoption etc. mean that she can't do it on her own.

In the second part of the book, it's some years later and the interest Natsuko had in the first part - having a child by donor conception - is a full-blown obsession. She's at a standstill in her career, she rarely sees her friends. She spends her time googling information on donor conception and through that, attends an event where she hears the experiences of people who were conceived by sperm donation. Events finally kickstart Natsuko into assessing her life up to that point and what her future will look like.

I found this book very interesting. Sometimes the actions of the characters were hard for me to understand; I chalk at least some of it up to cultural distinctions I don't get. The near-impossibility of a single woman having a baby in any way in Japan and the attitudes toward the expression of a desire to do so were enlightening (even if those attitudes were unenlightened themselves!). And I felt like Natsuko was a character I don't often read about, for reasons I won't get into here, but I'll just say it was an interesting viewpoint.

Quote: Hey, everyone loves surprise parties, right? One day you open the door, and everyone's there waiting for you, ready to surprise you. Here are all these people you've never met, never seen before, congratulating you, big smiles on their faces. Parties are different, though. You can go back through the door behind you, but when you're born, there's no leaving. There's no door. There's no way back to how things were before. I hate to say it, but not everyone likes surprise parties.

ETA: I just looked at the Wikipedia page and I saw this under "Reception":

Writer and then-governor of Tokyo, Shintaro Ishihara, who himself won the Akutagawa Prize in 1955 and was a sitting member of its selection committee, criticized the selection of Kawakami's novel for the prize. In Bungeishunjū he wrote, "The egocentric, self-absorbed rambling of the work is unpleasant and intolerable."

Also separate comments about the English translation being flat and the second half being "rambling and chatty". I don't know, I reacted to both of those things somewhat differently I guess.

Set 26, 10:21 am

>179 Caroline_McElwee: It was! It definitely felt more like a throne room than a church.

>180 katiekrug: Hopefully you can! I usually end up returning books to Denver early, but Lexington's 14-day loans often make me feel rushed.

Set 26, 6:03 pm

>181 ursula: You hit me with a BB. I'm a sucker for contemporary Japanese novels. :)

Set 27, 7:28 am

>183 SqueakyChu: I have been on a bit of a Japanese reading project this year although I have no particular extra interest in the country. It's been very interesting getting at least a partial portrait of the society though.

Editado: Set 27, 8:38 pm

>184 ursula: My older son loves to travel to Japan to sightsee, visit friends, and for video gaming as well as concerts. He has planned a month's trip to Japan this winter. I have yet to be able to convince him to read a contemporary Japanese novel, although I became interested in those about 15 or 20 years ago from a fellow Bookcrosser who introduced me to Yasunari Kawabata. I later read more Japanese authors back then, particularly, Banana Yoshimoto and Haruki Murakami. Now I'll try most Japanese authors, I love the way the stories translated from Japanese flow so they have taken over stories translated from Hebrew for me! That's saying a lot!!

Set 28, 3:16 am

>185 SqueakyChu: Very cool! Probably the first Japanese novels I really remember reading were also Haruki Murakami, and I read Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto a long time ago. But this year I wanted to bump up a single country on my stats, and Japan was the one that was highest while still having a lot of easily-accessible books to choose from. (I think when I started the year it was even with France.)

Set 28, 7:08 pm

>186 ursula: I think that my favorite Japanese author now is Kobo Abe (who recently died). His stories are so weird! Just what I love, though! :D

Out 1, 3:26 am

>187 SqueakyChu: I haven't read anything by him, but weird is definitely up my alley! I'll see if the libraries have anything.

Out 1, 3:30 am

So the first 3/4 of the year is down, and here's where I stand with 56 books read:

Not bad! I don't think I've ever ended a year with female authors beating out male ones, and I'm not sure I'll do it this year either but it's at least going to be a race.

Out 3, 4:55 am

Weekly 5x5

Antisocialites - Alvvays [dream pop] (self pick)
Travellers in Space and Time - The Apples in Stereo [indie rock] (self pick)
Mama Said Knock You Out - LL Cool J [hip hop] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
Red Headed Stranger - Willie Nelson [country] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
Untrue - Burial [ambient/electronic] (TrebleZine 100 all-time favorite albums list) +

The Long Way, The Slow Way - Camp Trash [emo] (self pick)
Straight Out of the Jungle - Jungle Brothers [hip hop] (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)
…Is an Evolving Mess - Cubfires [emo] (self pick)
De todas las flores - Natalia Lafourcade [pop] (2022 lists)
PAINLESS - Nilüfer Yanya [indie] (2022 lists)

Never Before Seen, Never Again Found - Arm’s Length [emo] (self pick, vinyl)
Drone Mass - Jóhann Jóhannsson [classical] (2022 lists) +
Cobalt Desert Oasis - Marco Shuttle [electronic] (2021 review)
Will the Circle Be Unbroken - Nitty Gritty Dirt Band [country folk] (1001 Albums list)
Paul Simon - Paul Simon [folk rock] (1001 Albums list)

EVERGREEN - PVRIS [electropop] (new releases)
New Standards, Vol. 1 - Terri Lyne Carrington [jazz] (2022 lists)
Uprising - Bob Marley & the Wailers [reggae] (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)
Only Constant - Gel [punk] (new releases) +
How Do I Keep My Head Above Water? - Indigo Moiré [emo] (self pick) +

A Way Forward - Nation of Language [indie pop] (2021 review)
Roxy Music - Roxy Music [art rock] (1001 Albums list)
Slayed? - Slade [glam rock] (1001 Albums list)
Can’t Buy a Thrill - Steely Dan [soft rock] (1001 Albums list)
Talking Book - Stevie Wonder [soul] (1001 Albums list)

******Notes on this week:
  • Below the chart:
    Loaded - The Velvet Underground (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
    Blue Lines - Massive Attack (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
    Trans-Europe Express - Kraftwerk (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
    Juju - Siouxsie & the Banshees (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)
    Axis - Helm (2021 review)
    Air - Sault (2022 lists)
    Boys of Faith - Zach Bryan (new releases) +

    Skipped for recency:
    Sail Away - Randy Newman (1001 Albums list)
    Heaven Or Las Vegas - Cocteau Twins (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
    Odessey and Oracle - The Zombies (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
    Live at the Harlem Square - Sam Cooke (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
    Criminal Minded - Boogie Down Productions (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
    Like a Prayer - Madonna (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)
    Pretty Hate Machine - Nine Inch Nails (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)

    Skipped for refusing to give even $.03 a play to:
    808s & Heartbreak - Kanye West (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)

  • The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band was the worst thing I put in my ear holes this week. Also, although I have liked past releases by Sault, this one did not connect with me.

  • I listened to a couple of albums by Indonesian emo bands this week; apparently there is a big emo scene there. Anyway, Cubfires was okay but not great, while I really liked Indigo Moiré. The new Gel was pretty fun (all 17 minutes of it). I had previously listened to and liked the Nilüfer Yanya and it was just as good on a relisten. Paul Simon is well, Paul Simon. And I've finally learned to like "Duncan", a song I've never really liked in all the years I've listened to it. Zach Bryan surprise-released an EP almost immediately after his album, and there's a song on there that's been stuck in my head ever since ("Deep Satin").

  • If you see Apples in Stereo on my chart, there's probably been a stressful day or two in the week! It's my all-time favorite comfort album. In this case, it's coupled with Camp Trash, so you can tell it was a very stressful day!

    And my Arm's Length record finally arrived! I had to wait for the release of the Boris record Morgan had ordered along with it. Anyway, I was super excited to put it on the turntable.

+ = added to my library
♡ = already in my library

Out 5, 4:15 am

Our Hideous Progeny by C.E. McGill

First line: 'Could you,' said the inspector, 'run it all by me one more time, Mrs Sutherland?'

This is a furthering of the Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. We find out in the first few pages that the narrator's great-uncle was named Victor Frankenstein, and when she finds some of his notes, she and her husband start working on some research of their own. They are both scientists, although only her husband has any standing in the scientific community, of course.

The main character (named Mary, of course) and her rather hapless husband Henry move in with his sister in her dark and gloomy house in Aberdeen to work on their secret experiments. Of course a lot of intrigue ensues. This was a good continuation of the Frankenstein story, a page-turner for me.

Out 5, 5:59 am

>189 ursula: excellent stats!

Happy Thursday :)

Out 5, 7:31 am

>192 figsfromthistle: Thanks! I was just over reading your thread (and not commenting, oops).

Out 5, 12:12 pm

I'm going back to Mannheim on Saturday, their urban sketchers group is having a meeting. They have 4 different possible routes, so I've been looking over their provided maps for each and I think I've decided on the one I'll follow. Looks like it'll be a balmy 20C so that should be okay for a day's worth of city wandering.

Out 5, 12:28 pm

>189 ursula: Nice stats! I am the opposite when it comes to gender of authors -- I'm currently at 81% female, 15% male, and 3.5% non-binary for the year, lol.

Out 5, 12:32 pm

>195 curioussquared: I am also at 3.5% non-binary, so we have that in common.

Out 5, 12:38 pm

>194 ursula: - Sounds like a nice day out!

Out 6, 9:31 am

>189 ursula: Love the stats! My percentage of American authors is about 58% and I thought I was doing good haha (and a good deal of it is because I've been reading a fantasy series by a Canadian author and a manga series earlier this year). I think next year I will focus on adding more translated/non-American authors and see if I can't get that number below 50% for the first time.

My percentage of female authors is hovering around 80% and is usually higher than male authors.

Out 6, 10:51 am

>197 katiekrug: Hopefully! I've been plagued by days of headaches recently so I'm not sure I'm going to make it, but I've got my fingers crossed.

>198 bell7: I usually hover somewhere around 50% although there have been years where there have been considerably more American authors.

My male/female ratio used to be unbalanced because I was reading a lot from the 1001 Books list and "classics" like that (ie, dead white guys). But this year and the last couple have been a lot less than that, so I'm not entirely sure why my reading still stays equal-to-weighted-toward men.

Out 6, 11:30 am

I'll keep my fingers crossed for you, too.

Out 7, 6:27 am

Hope your sketching trip is lots of fun and looking forward to pictures posted.

Out 7, 10:34 am

Hi Ursula! Whew. Long time no visit.

>28 ursula: A very long time ago, you got me with this one, The Decagon House Murders. I still haven’t read it, but it’s on my shelves now.

>34 ursula: And this one, too, Palo Alto. Being from SoCal, it appeals to me. Having said that, I’m glad that I’m from California.

>105 ursula: Yay for Mannheim, *smirk* about the steamrollers. Ugh. Wasp season.

>132 ursula: Love the title and first line.

>149 ursula: I read this one before joining LT, gave it 3.5 stars (“very good”), but can’t remember a single thing about it.

>165 ursula: Oh my. Impressive.

>189 ursula: Love your stats.

I hope you’re out sketching in Mannheim today.

Out 8, 3:54 am

>200 katiekrug: It worked!! :)

>201 Kristelh: Thanks! I will post a couple of pictures of the sketches soon, on a new thread.

>202 karenmarie: Hi there!

I have complicated feelings about California, but it's partly (mostly? entirely?) tied in to my lack of ability to feel like I'm "from" anywhere, belong anywhere, have a "home" anywhere.

The wasps are still hanging around because the weather has been unseasonably warm. I'm ...maybe getting a little used to them? I don't like sitting there and having them buzzing around but I'm practicing zen. It's illegal to kill them!

I am enthralled by stats for the last few years - this year is really the first time I've taken a really active role in trying to influence them (reading books from Japan). Already contemplating what next year might look like!

Editado: Out 8, 5:28 am

>203 ursula: Wasps are also still around here, Ursula, because of the unusual warm weather. I didn't know it could be illegal to kill them, but it explains a warning we saw when we were briefly walking in Germany last week.
Best way to keep wasps away imho is avoiding having any sweet things around you. At the end of their season they crave for sugar. But you probably already knew.

Out 9, 10:02 am

>204 FAMeulstee: Sweet things don't make any difference, they're in your face literally all the time. I mean, yes, they're more interested if you have something sweet of course, but having nothing does not deter them.
Este tópico foi continuado por Ursula's Books and Music Corner for 2023, part 4.