Friday, December 30, 2016

Snatam Kaur DIVINE BIRTH (2010)

I overdid it on Joy Division and needed this to reach equilibrium.  Struggling to prepare for inauguration, and it is really hard to hear how upset my folks are over the phone.  I know it is just the manifestation of a lot of things that were already very wrong here, that were convenient to overlook, but man it feels simultaneously personal and cosmically tragic.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Mark McGuire aka The Road Chief THE ACTIVE IMAGINATION EP (2016)

The Road Chief is a guise for Mark to make goofy, jubilant survivor music.  I can't help but love these wordless odes to joy-in-endurance, triumph-cum-existence; they're sunny day real estate in winter solstice days, they are cheery for cheeriness' sake.  Recorded in Portland and L.A., Mark sums it up better than I can: "Party songs for the wandering outsider in the post-human world."

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

The Magnetic Fields 5 SELECTIONS FROM 50 SONG MEMOIR EP (2016)

Monsieur Merritt has a fresh, voluminous conceit coming to us in March, and shared 10% of his auditory memoir early.  '93 and '02 are awesome: '93 is On the Bus Mall by the guy who lived it, '02 is like a Marseilles-march honoring our haunts, and how we must continue to show up for each other.

Steph and I saw the St. Louis Symphony accompany Casablanca and I think hearing the live orchestra play with this scene is my favorite cinematic experience ever.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Mark McGuire {The Bad Dreamers} THE SLEEP WATCHERS (2016)

nocturnal, aqueous, nightswimming deserves a quiet night.  buy it.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Mark McGuire THE ROLLING HILLS (2016)

Spring is the best season, followed by summer, autumn and then goddamn winter.   Winter can take flying fuck at the mooooooooooooooon!
Oh yeah, and another great Mark McGuire release, nowhere else, buy it here, Bandcamp is the best service to support musicians and it is an awesome site and app to boot.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

A MOST VIOLENT YEAR dir. J.C. Chandor (2014)

Not the descent-into-crime movie I was expecting.  A beautifully-shot locomotive of a parable about how if you want to keep your nose halfway clean and succeed in America, it will be a struggle every step of the way, and it takes superhuman perseverance to take the high road.  Is Oscar Isaac our best male actor under 40?  He's at least the most fun.  I am an absolute sucker for films set in this post-Watergate era, and this was exactly what the doctor ordered on an icy night when the roads were impassable and my wife had to try farm roads, retreat to the tavern, and get a ride to the homestead with her dad.  We have a couple more layers of insulation than we used to, but we still live in a most violent year.

Monday, December 19, 2016

ROGUE ONE dir. Gareth Edwards (2016)

It was nice to see some stakes.  I remember how upset I was as a third grader seeing Return of the Jedi for the first time, and seeing one Ewok die, and the other mourn him.  Especially with modern America's valorization of the military, I'm glad the kids might understand that good guys die too.  ROGUE ONE was much better than THE FORCE AWAKENS, but these things are never going to really be for me anymore, and that is just fine.  Shout out to whoever was responsible for getting those flight helmets nice and grimy.  Ya done good.

Mark McGuire CYNTHIANA (2016)

Last month's gift from Mark; more lowkeymajorkey sublimity. I guess Emeralds et al. are my Grateful Dead.  Buy it and support an awesome dude and his family.

Daily Zen:

Sunday, December 18, 2016


I haven't listened to any artist more than Mark McGuire this year.  I didn't realize I could share these this easily, but Bandcamp is such a terrific site.  I've bought a bunch of his stuff, and he's been prolific with new releases and digging into his archive as well.  Mark is taking an alternative route to Spotify and I think it is working well for him.  I get alerts every few weeks that he's posted something and it always makes my day.  This one reminds me in spirit more of the high-flying spirit quests of his Road Chief project.  Get swell with me.

Friday, December 16, 2016

LA LA LAND (2016)

Sold out opening Thursday night in St. Louis at the one screen in town that is playing it this weekend.  They were turning people away, which seems to demonstrate a nutritional-deficit-like need for what we hoped this film to be--and the hunch was right; Chazelle, Gosling, Stone & Co. could cure anemia with celluloid.  Just superb. Read Scott's masterful review. (His mention of its reverence for "the old rhythms of life" is especially trenchant.) See it this weekend if you can, so that you can see it again in the new year on the big screen.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Favorite Television of 2016

18. Portlandia
17. Catastrophe
16. Bajillion Dollar Propertie$

15. Harmonquest
14. Love
13. Lady Dynamite
12. Mr. Robot
11. Search Party

10. Last Week Tonight With John Oliver
9. The Mindy Project
8. Mozart in the Jungle
7. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
6. Veep

5. Silicon Valley
4. Stranger Things
3. Game of Thrones
2. Westworld
1. Broad City

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Frank Ocean ENDLESS (2016)

Talent to squander and dude does.  ambient, prog-soul that is vapor-thin but nice until the 9:19 album closer, a sarcastic 90's electronica throwback that takes any goodwill and tosses it in the garbage like a cartoon fish skeleton.

i guess the press needed a myth and it happened to be Frank and he didn't stop them and Apple paid out.  nice work if you can get it.  he could improve nearly everything on the charts but that's not the world we live in.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Sturgill Simpson A SAILOR'S GUIDE TO EARTH (2016)

Evening-porch country-soul.  The Dap-Kings show up in places to transmorgify modern outsider country into something grander, like the cosmic americana Gram Parsons was searching for.

daily zen

weird af, 3 tracks:
1) 0:00 (Mysterious Girl)
2) 4:07 Seaside Party (Seaside Party of Love)
3) 9:07 (Mysterious Cult)

"Sinsemilla is a highly potent form of marijuana obtained from unpollinated female plants"

get you some! source:

The internet is as weird as you want it to be.

Pynchonwiki!  Have a great day!

Monday, December 12, 2016

Childish Gambino AWAKEN, MY LOVE! (2016)

Left turn into bubblebath soul with really nice funk guitar and keys, hope it finds the people who would really love it.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Chance the Rapper COLORING BOOK (2016)

As a mixtape it is ++++++ as an album it could tighten up but the highs are so jubilantly high

daily zen

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Ian William Craig CENTRES (2016)

This is an especially rich and therapeutic zone-out album for the end to this crushing year.  IWC has an uncanny way with creating quiet spaces and knowing just when to drop in choral healing.  See: Purpose (Is No Country)

I mean, they perfected it in Japan before I was born, but same with NES.

Thursday, December 08, 2016

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds SKELETON TREE (2016)

The most graceful and subdued journey through loss I've experience since Donald Hall's WITHOUT (1998.)

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Francis and the Lights FAREWELL, STARLITE (2016)

A more palatable loopy pastiche a la James Blake or Bon Iver, probably not amiss in chic restaurant, by this light electro-pop lifer.  Not going to return to the whole thing, but good God is this a perfect raspberry sorbet of a single:

Tuesday, December 06, 2016


Somehow behind DIFFICULT PEOPLE on Metacritic, which hurts my soul.  DIFFICULT PEOPLE is borderline unwatchable.  I know because I've cringed through every episode when the cupboard is 100% bare.  KIMMY is a joyous freight train and season two capitalized on so much of the promise of season one.  I'm so glad Netflix stepped in and saved it, it is one of the most delightful things on TV.  Do people punish it for not being 30 ROCK, the greatest sitcom of all time?

Monday, December 05, 2016


So I was probably a little too gushing with the Mindy post, but I think my sense of the state of comedy is skewed by the strange release schedules common among the best sitcoms right now.  UNBREAKABLE KIMMY SCHMIDT is my favorite right now, and LADY DYNAMITE occupies a strange in-between space--it triple-downs on LOUIE's ambition, and quadruples its success rate.       Maria is my vote for most talented entertainer on the planet right now, and she seems to have found the perfect outlet for the bullet trains that her brain sends rocketing around pop culture, WASPisms, and first world frailty.  This show is darker than almost any drama sans THE WIRE but it leavens the loaf with pugs and slapstick and the best array of supporting characters possibly ever.  Did you think Dean Cain would be super-relevant in 2016, and maybe produce its best comedic moment?  Steph and I have seen her perform live twice now, and I just hope she can continue to do whatever the heck she wants.

Saturday, December 03, 2016

The Berkeley Renaissance

"Any fool can get into an ocean..."

Any fool can get into an ocean
But it takes a Goddess
To get out of one.
What's true of oceans is true, of course,
Of labyrinths and poems.  When you start swimming
Through riptide of rhythms and the metaphor's seaweed
You need to be a good swimmer or a born Goddess
To get back out of them
Look at the sea otters bobbing wildly
Out in the middle of the poem
They look so eager and peaceful playing out there where
    the water hardly moves
You might get out through all the waves and rocks
Into the middle of the poem to touch them
But when You've tried the blessed water long
Enough to want to start backward
That's when the fun starts
Unless you're a poet or an otter or something supernatural
You'll drown, dear.  You'll drown
Any Greek can get you into a labyrinth
But it takes a hero to get out of one
What's true of labyrinths is true of course
Of love and memory.  When you start remembering.

-Jack Spicer

I've liked the Spicer I've read, need to explore more.  This one reminded me of WESTWORLD, and it had sea otters in it.  Dude had my number.  Had to resign from UC Berkeley due to Red Scare legislation.  What a boss.

Friday, December 02, 2016

13 Favorite Taylor Swift Songs

A list I created last weekend to punish Steph for traveling on Thanksgiving.  My passive aggressiveness has layers, like an onion cake.  (Thirteen is Taylor's favorite number, if you're a dummy who doesn't know that.)  I think we all know that the true victim here is me.  I will martyr my modest Taylor fandom to you.

13. Love Story
12. Speak Now
11. Welcome to New York

10. Blank Space
9. Shake It Off
8. Mine
7. Style
6. Our Song

5. You Belong With Me
4.  Wildest Dreams
3. Back to December
2. Sparks Fly
1. I Knew You Were Trouble

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Long December GOAT

Finally time for the GOAT winter song and top five Christmas song.  That was the longest goddamn month of my life, felt like we were crawling towards December.  Grateful that a lot of people are fired up and not giving up.

I remember turning in a biology final fall semester freshman year and singing this song to myself as I packed up my backpack.  The couple the row in front of me turned around looking like they'd seen a ghost and the girl very solemnly said: "That is my favorite song." It is weird to have songs that have literally been helping me live for over a decade.

MR. ROBOT S2 (2016)

It was a challenging season, especially the Elliot-centric episodes, but nothing on TV has felt as essentially of-the-moment and daring since Sorkin-era THE WEST WING or pre-Obama THE DAILY SHOW.  It is incredibly thoughtful, perhaps takes itself too seriously, but what else is taking on the fundamental issues of the present with this kind of unflinching courage?  THE AMERICANS is kind of a stylish echo of this, but we have the benefit of distance and spy-cool detachment, whereas MR.ROBOT shows the warts-and-all youth grappling with a seriously fucked system, with dice loaded and decks stacked to such absurd levels that the characters, and we along with them, need to ask why even play the game.

ps still-President Obama got me a raise (my employer already sent out the memo, whoops, and is honoring it) in addition to cutting my taxes for eight years and covering my privileged white ass with health insurance for two years I really needed it, long live the man the myth the legend and fuck the new guy.