Sunday, May 29, 2011

Lists: Books (2011)

I'm at 20 books for the year and expect that I'll be at 21 by the end of the month. I've noticed that I'm accumulating a number of authors for whom I've read multiple books over the last few years -- likely because I read on very few topics and I don't have a lot of readers in my social circle who would really turn me on to someone. The latest to join this group is Bill Carter, who is a television writer, which is surprising, given that I don't really watch much in the way of television. But I read his book about the debacle at NBC with Conan O'Brien in April, which then led me to go back and read his book about the Letterman/Leno debacle at NBC -- of which I made short work. They're both fascinating to me and strike me as pretty ludicrously balanced. They don't make me despise Jay Leno any less, but they make a case for him as a sympathetic figure in both scenarios. But that was right on the heels of finishing John Feinstein's error-laden book about Mike Mussina and Tom Glavine, which was my second of his books.

I'm in the middle of three books: Where the Wild Things Were, Shut Out by Howard Bryant (see FJM post if you want a good reason why I've not felt motivated to pick this up again), and The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson (which I anticipate I may finish in the next two days).

So, since I started this quest in 2007, I've read 24 authors multiple times. Here's the list:
Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. (13)
Ian Fleming (12)
Michael Chabon (9)
Jon Krakauer (5)
Raymond Chandler (3)
Steve Martin (3)
Joe Posnanski (3)
JD Salinger (3)
Sherman Alexie (2)
Jim Callis et al. (Baseball America prospect handbook authors) (2)
Bill Carter (2)
Don DeLillo (2)
Dave Eggers (2)
John Feinstein (2)
Mark Haddon (2)
Dashiell Hammett (2)
Nick Hornby (2)
AJ Jacobs (2)
Chuck Klosterman (2)
Michael Lewis (2)
David Maraniss (2)
Jeff Pearlman (2)
Art Spiegelman (2)
Eric Tyson/Ray Brown (2) - no more from these two, it's safe to say.

I'm surprised that Fleming got beat out, I didn't realize I'd read that many Vonnegut books. I will definitely read more Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler when the opportunity presents itself, I just don't engage with fiction that often (the list of authors kind of shows that my forays into fiction are very concentrated in a given author).

I'd expect to add a few authors to that list since I already own the books to do it: Christopher Buckley, James M. Cain, Raymond Carver, Norman Mailer and Harvey Pekar.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Well, it fits one of the themes...

I'm pretty sure Paul Simon's "Mother and Child Reunion" is the song most likely to be permanently lodged in my brain. It's not my favorite song of his by a longshot, but it just gets in there and it stays for weeks.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Well, I'm working...

so that explains why I'm really spending my effort trying to write about a stream-of-consciousness playlist that really captures what I'm feeling or what I'm looking for.  It was inadvertent, I found I couldn't really focus on reading comment letters to the CFTC when I was listening to Patton Oswalt (although I like Todd Barry considerably more as a comedian, I end up listening to Oswalt's albums more than any other comedian -- probably since I already burned through all of Barry's so much the first few years where they were the only comedy albums I owned).
It started because I sorted by genre, which brought up alt-country, a genre I created since I figured it made more sense than trying to find Old 97's albums that were spread among live, pop, rock, and  country.  But the first album it brought up was Bare Jr.'s boo-tay, a poorly named but genuinely interesting album that's completely off the radar at this point.  It also has a song that will forever rank as one of my favorites, though it was passed up for a genuinely bad single and probably helped to sink the band's launch despite some pretty strong reviews by Spin (I think) and an up-and-coming music journalist (me -- and god, for all the things I did write when I was chasing journalistic pursuits, music reviews were not among them -- I am not gifted at writing about music even now, and 2 of the 3 albums I managed to review positively led to the rapid destruction of the bands I reviewed -- Bare, Jr. lasted one more album before Bobby Bare Jr. went out solo, U.N.K.L.E. never released another album after Psyence Fiction. I'm likely forgetting something, the only other album I remember reviewing was the first volume of U2's greatest hits).
Anyway, Bare Jr. - Nothin' Better to Do is the song. It's not even available on youtube -- that's how forgotten this album is. The closest thing is this: -- but it's not even close to the same -- the drums and mandolin are what really power the album version, which, after a considerable effort, I managed to find in clip form.
Anyway, the Bare Jr. youtube clip of the house party led to me adding a song that I want to hate, want to despise, want to abhor, because the same house party performance included Bobby covering America's "Sister Golden Hair". Yes, I want to loathe it, but I love for some reason I can't even begin to understand. Whenever I hear it, I then have to listen to it at least a dozen times in a day. And, I suspect if I ever formed a band, I would feel obligated to cover that cursed song. Which led me to -- Neil Diamond - Forever in Blue Jeans (let's just say my band wouldn't be particularly hard-a-rockin'), which led me to Bob Dylan - Tonight I'll Be Staying Here With You - a song that I discovered in the last cassette I ever bought -- I was 17 and experiencing the freedom that comes with driving a minivan, because for some reason I had to take it to practice for Once on This Island across town that afternoon, ended up at blockbuster music, and they had a cutout bin of cassettes that included a 99 cent copy of Nashville Skyline.  I liked the album, didn't know what that said about me, and would eventually buy it in CD form about 10 years later. 
That, somehow led to the Avett Brothers' "I and Love and You" -- which I really loved the first time I heard it on XPN, bought the album (and its predecessor) the same day, and only remembered it enough to recommend it to others. It remained unforgotten until my nephew (who was, at the time, not even 4) overheard some reference to Brooklyn and referenced the song. And anytime I bring that up, then I have to add The Weight of Lies to the playlist as well.
I went back to my own genre category, which got me to add three songs to the list from the Jayhawks I'm Gonna Make You Love Me - which I got from the KURE giveaway at the end of Kaleidoquiz my junior year on a 5-track EP that also included the Jayhawks song I already knew that was probably my favorite at the time Blue, and a song I adore but forget constantly (though I've now listened to it 4 times tonight) Save It for a Rainy Day.
That sent me to look for Matthew Sweet - Winona (which is astonishingly not on youtube in non-cover form), which brought up the Matthew Sweet cover of what may actually be my favorite song -- so I added the original (Big Star - Ballad of El Goodo).
Then, about the third time I was listening to Save It for a Rainy Day the harmonica sounded familiar...and so I added Neil Young - Long May You Run (unplugged).
Then I remembered the second song I felt would have to go on my tombstone as a song I loved for reasons that I never understood -- and went ahead and added both it (Pure Prairie League - Amie) and its Wesley Willis cover version (no youtube, sorry -- Amie - rock over London, rock on Chicago). And, because it fit the genre bill -- Old 97's - Buick City Complex, which led me to my other favorite rust belt despondency anthem  Bruce Springsteen - Youngstown
So there's the playlist I felt it necessary to post about. It did the job, too, because I'm still not done working.