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Jan

11

2018

To explain: 

READING TRI-LATERALLY:

Lately I've been trying to read more than one book at a time, picking them up depending on my mood. And while my problem in the past has been losing track of what characters, which story, belonged where, this time it's been working. Also, I don't get confused if, among those multiple books, one is a novel, the other nonfiction, the third a poetry collection and so forth.

This means you may feel like you're never going to finish a book and get to some future read you've been dying to get to. But what ends up happening is you finish your three books all about the same time, which then feels like your birthday because you get to restock three books at once. 

Try it!



Jan

5

2018



Jan

4

2018

Welcome to the The Smokler 50: 2017 Edition.

The idea: 50 songs I heard for the first time this year. Doesn't have to be new just new to me.

How to: Best if you listen in order as they are sequenced in a certain way. If you don't like a song, skip it.

The point:  Discover 3 songs you now like that you didn't know before listening. If you listen and say "wow, you like a lot of different types of music!" I have succeeded. If you say "Wow you like 70s Irish punk" or something like that, I have failed.

Enjoy!

The playlist is also available on Youtube

 

 

 



Jan

2

2018

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(Trailer)

Documentary about two African-American boys who both go to the elite Dalton school in New York. Filmed by one set of parents which is remarkable given these parents are an attorney and psychiatrist not filmmakers.

Because of this, there's probably a bit too much focus on one kid and not the other and not enough on their friendship which how the film is advertised. Given that, there's still an enormous achievement here, filming two American kinds practically their entire young lives and turning into a coherent, moving narrative. Important questions here about how black boys are educated, how they fit in or don't and why. Really sad scene where one of the kids tries to hail a cab and can't and his friend says "Welcome to being a young black man in New York City." 

See it: On Netflix DVD or iTunes



Dec

29

2017

Made list of them on Letterbxd. Are we friends on Letterbxd?



Dec

29

2017

This year I read 31 books. I've made a short list of my favorite 5. Bear in mind I don't often read new books so I won't say this is my "Top 5 of 2017" but instead my "Top 5 Books Read in 2017"

In reverse order then:

5. The March Trilogy by John Lewis, Andrew Ayon & Nate Powell (2017)

A three-volume graphic memoir of Congressman John Lewis from his youth in Alabama to his work as a young man in the early days of the Civil Rights Movement. It would be difficult to boff this story as John Lewis has led one of the great lives of the 20th Century but he and his collaborators have done something, in stark, almost-worldess black & white, bold, epic and beautiful.

This book won the National Book Award in 2017 for Young People's Literature. With good reason.

 

4. The Odd Woman & The City by Vivian Gornick. (2015)

I was only familiar with Ms. Gornick's name and her legendary standing as a critic and intellectual of the Second Wave Feminist movement until I picked up her short memoir/essay collection which came in 2015. I was unaware of how sure and effortless her prose is, how conversationally perfect, how she seems, despite being pointed at times like a marvelous traveling companion.

This book is about her late-in-life friendship with a man named Leonard, her own relationship with New York City having grown up there nearly 80 years ago and gone to school there in the early Eisenhower era.

Read if you simply love a writer at the very top of her game even after being at it for a good 40 years.

 

3. Animals Strike Curious Poses by Elena Passarello (2017)

One of my favorite writers new essay collection about famous animals throughout human history (including Jumbo the Elephant and the Starlings that colonized America) is funny, sweet, sad and ridiculously smart. It's fair to say that if you love animals you would be missing out not to read this book because you will never see them the same way again.

 

2. Hope in the Dark by Rebecca Solnit (2005)

A short, indispensable essay collection that should be required reading by anyone who considers themselves of a left-leaning political persuasion. In it, Rebecca Solnit simply argues that to be progressive and to be cynical is a stupid self-defeating contradiction and to be politically conscious and humorless is an argument against being politically conscious in the first place.

The first must-read book of these insane political times.

 

1. Bluets by Maggie Nelson (2009)

The kind of book where you say "OMG!" on every 3rd page. A mediation on both the color blue and having your heart broken, Maggie Nelson is so smart, so gifted and so good at what she does that I immediately spent the rest of the year binging on her books, one after the other in a spirit of reading ecstasy and joy.

 



Dec

1

2017

Images.duckduckgo

 

If the road trip is among our most American movie format genres, "Planes, Trains and Automobiles" allows itself almost none of its gifts: the road here doesn't lead to freedom but vulnerability, Del and Neal don't chose the journey but it instead holds them captive. If Thanksgiving is among not only our most American holidays but also our most deliberate — the whole country travels to a designated place for a traditional meal at a designated time — "Planes, Trains and Automobiles" is rather a story about chance, about a friendship born when two people hiding inside their skin are brought out of it by being stranded with one another.

Read the rest in Salon



Nov

6

2017

"If you can't be funny, be interesting" -- Harold Ross, founder of The New Yorker (via The Writers Almanac



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Oct

2

2017

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"War doesn't decide who is right, only who is left."



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Jul

12

2017

"The adventure itself will create beautiful things..." 

 

-- Jon Anderson