Weekly digest (12/2/11)

At least during the holidays my online shopping transfixion has a point. I think.

  • Read it. I’m definitely planning a post on Jeffrey Eugenides’ The Marriage Plot because it is poignant and realistic. Highly recommended.
  • See it. Erm, I wouldn’t usually watch this but Top Chef Texas is pretty fun (Padma! Why must you wear all denim?).
  • Hear it. Oh boy I am pretty much only listening to Lanie Lanes’ About the Horses, pretty much for fans of lovely retro female country singers.

Weekly digest (11/25/11)

Happy day after Thanksgiving! My was small and cozy and delicious. And after a day and a half of running around, I am officially spending today on the couch.

  • Read it. I read the graphic novel Ethel & Ernest, a moving story written by Raymond Briggs (author/illustrator of The Snowman) about his parents’ marriage during post World War II England. If it doesn’t break your heart I don’t know what will.
  • See it.  This week my brother introduced me to AMC’s The Walking Dead, which I enjoyed far more than I thought I would like a zombie t.v. show.
  • Hear it. Ready for the holidays? She & Him’s Christmas album will put you in the mood.

Weekly digest (11/18/11)

Suddenly I turned around and it’s the middle of November and the holidays are creeping up and that means the end of the year, and let’s all just take a deep breath together, yes?

  • Read it. It was a book club suggestion, but Stacey Schiff’s Pulitzer Prize-winning biography of Cleopatra makes a fascinating read for a female leader that was almost as powerful as Alexander the Great and who we only remember for her affairs.
  • See it. My brother and I have a tradition of watching Hitchcock around the holidays. This Thanksgiving: North by Northwest!
  • Hear it. I picked up Simon and Garfunkle’s Greatest Hits on vinyl at Amoeba and it’s perfect morning, noon and night music. Fun fact: it was also one of my first CDs at age 9. Nice to see things come full circle.

Tom Waits, “Bad as Me”

Tom Waits, "Bad as Me" (courtesy Paste)

Tom Waits, "Bad as Me" (courtesy Paste)

I’m hardly the unbiased party to review a new Tom Waits. I happen to love his gritty, carny, meandering, noisy, maudlin sound. And I know from personal experience (and many mix CDs) it’s a taste that people love or hate.

This is Waits’ 17th album, and I’d say it collects the highlights of the types of sounds he has been working with over the last few albums. “Talking at the Same Time” is a lonesome, almost Latino barroom tune sung in an impressive falsetto.  Even his tendencies for loud and brash noises seem restrained and even refined on the title track.

In the interview I heard with him (on Terry Gross, ahem) he spoke of his and wife/producer Kathleen Brennan’s desire to capture a vintage soundscape. And there’s a snap and crackle to the music like make it sound like timeless Tom Waits. And that’s just about perfect for me.

Want more?

Watch the video for “Satisfied” here (directed by Jesse Dylan… yep, one of those Dylans).

Weekly digest (11/11/11)

Some magical numbers today! Let’s hear it for people who love symmetry (and have problems remembering the date).

  • Read it. Is it a crime to read something again? I sure hope not. I’ve been enjoying Sandman so much I checked out Neil Gaiman’s Fragile Things for a re-read and was again struck at how elegant, accessible and downright creepy his writing is. (Bonus: read “Other People” here).
  • See it. Confession: as someone who didn’t grow up with t.v. for much of her childhood, I missed the joys of many traditionally syndicated shows. So now that Cheers is on Netflix I’m quite happy to be catching up.
  • Hear it. The Fuel/Friends Autumn 2011 mix is up! Carry on, even happier than before.

Check it out: Old, Weird America

I hope that you’ve at least heard of Harry Smith’s wonderful Anthology of American Folk Music. For the uninitiated, Harry Smith was a kooky old guy who collected American recordings of the 1920s and 1930s. It was released as a six album set in 1952. Loads of folkies in the 1950s and 1960s got their grubby hands on it, and shaped the way of popular music.

The blog The Old, Weird America is one of those places on the Internet that makes the rest of trash worthwhile. The site’s host is going through each song of the Anthology, finding covers and live performances and research (and mp3s!). From the introduction:

With this blog, i want to use the Folkways Anthology as a roadmap to explore american folk music and maybe other countries traditions along the way. I’ ll use texts, images, music and videos gathered from my personal collection and from the net to make this work-in-progress enjoyable and educational the best i can.

It’s a trove of historical music Americana and a labor of love.

Check it out:

Dig in here at The Old, Weird America.

Weekly digest (11/4/11)

Winter blows in slowly, and I find that my tastes change – no more sunny pop and escapist novels – I want cozy sounds and stories to curl up with.

  • Read it. Craig Thompson’s epic new graphic novel Habibi has been taunting me from my bookshelf for a few days, but I’ve finally started it and it promises to be simply grand.
  • See it. I’m not usually on the reality tv show bandwagon, but I managed to see a Bravo marathon (they are always marathoning, they must be so tired) of Top Chef Masters and remembered how much fun it is to watch talented people to go to great lengths to make tiny, fancy food.
  • Hear it. New Florence and the Machine album is (via disco naivite).

Monterey Bay Aquarium

I know, I know, recommending the  Monterey Bay Aquarium is like reminding you of milk – remember when you loved it? Well, it is still awesome! I went last month and was probably even more blown away than when I last went at age 5.

The institution does such a great job of protecting and showcasing their animals. This time I even learnt about the history of Cannery Row in Monterey. Sadly we went right after their Great White was released.

Most impressive sight? A very active octopus that swirled around his habitat in amazing contortions (no picture because I followed the rules and didn’t want to disturb his acrobatics).

Kelp forest

Oh hello

Dancing tube anemones


Adorable cuttlefish

Heaven in the sea



Sea turtle

Plant fish

Want more?

Plan your visit!

Weekly digest (10/28/11)

I love mini-trips. For me, planning is half the fun, so even if it’s a short trip I get double the fun.

  • Read it. Just started it, but in my weekend bag is The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern and I can tell I will already love the magical, dark tale.
  • See it. Slightly cheesy, definitely romantic as all-get-out, An Affair to Remember (1957) is worth a lazy curl-up on the couch.
  • Hear it. Ever since inheriting my dad’s classical record collection, I’ve been slowly listening to it more and more. Maybe that’s why I’ve been listening to BBC 3 online – British commercials are the best, and classical announcers sound even classier.