Who am I and what is happening

Guys I’m listening to a Taylor Swift album on purpose right now and if there’s any clearer sign that 2020 is completely out of control I can’t imagine what in the world it could possibly be. That said, Folklore doesn’t sound like anything else she’s ever done. It’s adamantly not a pop album. I … think I like it, but that might be one of the signs of the apocalypse and I haven’t read Revelation in a while so let me hold off on that determination for a minute.

I said on Twitter earlier that this was like Taylor Swift wrote a Fiona Apple album, but even that doesn’t make sense because I didn’t really like Fiona Apple all that much until her quarantine album came out, and nothing in the world makes any sense any longer.

In other news, I am tired of thinking about my vision, which isn’t improving to the degree I want it to, which is juuuuuust starting to edge into alarming territory, and I have to continue vaguebooking about the thing I was vaguebooking about earlier this week for at least a little bit longer. Until next Tuesday, in fact.

“Vaguebooking” is one word, WordPress, and I’d appreciate it if you’d stop fixing it for me.

Also, have I always written ridiculously long sentences around here, or this is a new thing? I feel like it may not be new but it’s definitely getting worse, and I need to work on that.

It’s quiet uptown

There has not been much to today, and the highlights of yesterday were pork chops, mashed potatoes and lemon cake. I am listening to something called Little Simz on Spotify (related: I have a Spotify account now) and grooving to it.

I have a couple of longer posts bubbling, but I think they need to bubble a bit longer. I’ll see y’all tomorrow.

On HAMILFILM, and a quick book review

I have already discussed my deep affection for Hamilton at least once on this site; my wife and I went to see the show in Chicago for our 10th anniversary a couple of years ago, and while that wasn’t with the original cast, I also have the soundtrack, which I have more or less memorized. We waited for the boy to go to bed last night before watching the filmed version in order to avoid fifteen thousand questions while we watched it, so I didn’t get to bed until after midnight and didn’t manage to get to sleep for a good hour and a half after that.

Worth it.

No surprises here, really; there are bits where cadence and inflection differs a bit from the soundtrack but it’s all the same people performing that I was used to, and this time I got the benefit of close-up camera shots so you can see facial expressions and the like much better. I feel like this really benefited Leslie Odom Jr.’s performance as Aaron Burr the most; I felt like I could really feel his emotions throughout the play and connected to him in a way that I didn’t quite manage in Chicago. I also still find myself preferring Tamar Greene’s George Washington to Christopher Jackson; he just seemed to physically fit the role better for me.

Either way, I’d just consider a month’s worth of Disney+ the cost to pay to rent this and watch it over and over for a while; it’s well worth it, especially if you’ve never seen the show in person before.


I’ve read one Tananarive Due book before, and really wasn’t hugely fond of it; it wasn’t necessarily bad so much as it didn’t really make an impact. I picked up her debut novel, The Between, as part of my 52 Books by Women of Color project, and I was happy to discover that I liked it a hell of a lot more than I did My Soul to Keep. I don’t necessarily want to do a full review of it, especially since I think it’s probably a good book to go into pretty blind, but this one is an unapologetic horror novel, and while it did take me a few days to get through it it also lost me some sleep on a couple of nights, so that’s a good thing. This is book 33 of the 52, and it’s the second book 33, because after reading an interview with Akwaeke Emezi after finishing Pet I discovered that she doesn’t identify as a woman and so that book (which is still really good, and well worth a read) shouldn’t count any longer.

(EDIT: Interesting, I apparently liked My Soul to Keep much more when I read it than my memory serves; it made my honorable mention list for 2016.)

I think I’m probably going to finish 52 books fast enough to be able to turn this into 52 authors, by the way; we’ll see where I’m at once I’ve finished 52 books and how many authors I’ve read more than one book from. I’ll probably be at four or five books just by N.K. Jemisin by the end of the year, so it might be several people, but something makes me think I can manage it.

At any rate, The Between is an effective, scary horror novel. It’s a good read.

The 10 Album Challenge

I just finished this the other day, doing it slightly wrong (my 10 albums was 15 albums, and this post will add at least two more) and I figured I’d at least post the albums I chose here, in no particular order beyond the first one:

This is the most important one, and it should probably be its own post, as virtually no one I met beyond high school would ever have met me had I never listened to this album. This is the single most important piece of music I’ve ever listened to, period.

The soundtrack to my junior year of high school.

I really could have chosen any of Pearl Jam’s first three albums and it would have been fine.

Similarly, there are about three Public Enemy albums I could have picked.

The part of my brain that wasn’t marinating itself in hiphop during high school was marinating itself in reggae.

Speaking of marinating in hiphop, this was either the first or the second hiphop album I ever bought, and it had much more of a long-term impact than the other, which would have been the Fat Boys.

The other soundtrack to my senior year of high school, and the album that was being played at incredibly unsafe volume during all sorts of high-speed, late-night drives in the boonies in southern Indiana during college.

I got very heavily into blues music in college; there are a half-dozen BB King albums I could have picked.

One of only two Dave Matthews Band albums I really like, this one got me through my sophomore year of college. Will never forget having this on in the background about three days after it came out while a friend and I were hanging out and her remarking after a few minutes, incredulous, “You’ve memorized it already?”

Speaking of memorization: another big car album, and an album that we were listening to during an unforgettable game of euchre in high school, where the only words spoken by anyone at the table other than loudly singing along were to claim the trump suit. Whistling in the Dark was fucking epic.

I used to actually meditate to a couple of the songs on this album.

Listening to this one right now. Another case where I could have chosen any of several albums.

The other utterly unforgettable album from my blues period. Things Gonna Change is a perfect song.

The soundtrack to my senior year of high school.

And, closing in on 30 years after I first bought it, an album I still listen to on the first really warm day of every year. It’s not spring until I’ve listened to No One Can Do It Better, preferably in the car.


8:17 PM, Monday May 11: 1,346,723 confirmed cases and 80,342 deaths, which represents a remarkable slowdown over the last couple of days, and the smallest two-day total in months, which I’m afraid is going to end up having something to do with people not reporting much over Mother’s Day. We’ll see how tomorrow and Wednesday go.

#Review: BEASTIE BOYS STORY

Man, it’s weird when rappers get old.

I’m in the odd position of wanting to review something that I’m pretty certain very few of you will actually be able to watch: the documentary BEASTIE BOYS STORY, directed by Spike Jonze, currently exclusive to Apple TV+. Which I only have because I bought an iPhone this year and you get a free year when you do that. So far we’ve watched this documentary and season one of SEE, which was entertaining and pretty and unbelievably, heinously dumb.

And the thing is, I’ve been a Beastie Boys fan for, functionally, my entire damn life. License to Ill came out in 1986, when I was nine, and if it wasn’t the first rap tape I ever got it was the second, since I don’t remember if I bought this or the Fat Boys first. (Also, Jesus, at least two of the Fat Boys don’t even scan as fat any longer. I’m bigger than all three of them, I think.) So it’s weird to see Adrock and Mike D on stage as, basically, two old dorky white guys telling terrible jokes and reading, mostly not especially compellingly, off of a TelePrompTer.

I was thinking this was going to be a more standard talking-heads type of documentary, but what it actually is is a two-man stage show, with Spike Jonze handling audio and video on a giant screen behind them and tons and tons of white people in their 40s and 50s in the audience. And while I definitely enjoyed watching it (and, perhaps more importantly, so did my wife, who doesn’t have remotely the attachment to hiphop that I do, and virtually none at all to the Beastie Boys specifically) I have to admit that there’s a certain bittersweet element to watching it, as MCA was absolutely and undeniably the brains and the soul of this group and he passed away of cancer in 2012. It’s as if Lennon got shot and the only members of the Beatles left were Ringo and Pete Best. The Beastie Boys didn’t have a Paul McCartney, y’know? Once Adam Yauch was gone, the group was over; there was never any chance of either of the other two even trying a solo career.

Seen as the artifact it is, this is definitely worth two hours of your time, especially if you have ever been a fan of either rap music or the Beastie Boys (and I can watch music documentaries all goddamn day long even if I don’t like the artists they’re about) but I did find myself wishing we could break away from the perspective of the two surviving band members from time to time. I’d like to hear what Rick Rubin or Russell Simmons have to say about the group’s split from Def Jam, or what Run-DMC had to say about their tour together, and oh my god this is what Rick Rubin looks like now:

Holy shit. Dude.

Yeah, well, point is, some other perspectives would have been nice, from time to time, and there are a couple of weird lacunae in what we get that could have used some shoring up– early bandmate Kate Schellenbach gets enough attention that you expect there to be some sort of payoff, which never really arrives, for example. But if you go in knowing what you’re about to see– Mike D and Adrock (who damn near never calls himself that; he’s “Adam” throughout the documentary, and Adam Yauch is “Yauch,” not MCA) talking about their lives on stage, mostly from a script, and some almost insultingly corny jokes from time to time, it’s not a bad way to spend two hours. Call it a B-, I guess.


4:49 PM, Sunday May 3: 1,154,340 confirmed infections and 67,447 Americans dead. Meanwhile, a whole lot of places open back up tomorrow, and … this is not going to go well, at all, for a whole lot of people.