Pushing Forward Back February/March 2020

Highlights from this past month: getting a new table for our kitchen, getting a romanesco cauliflower in our Misfits Market subscription box, Seamus (as usual), and the cover art for the book Blue Horses by Mary Oliver.

February found me finally reading poetry this past week after going back and forth whether or not I wanted to read it or not. I read two Mary Oliver books: Dream Work and Blue Horses, enjoying the latter more than the former. I also read two other books this past month:

  • Heaven, My Home, the second in the Highway 59 series, by Attica Locke.
  • How To Be An Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi,

enjoying the former over the latter with those two as Attica Locke continues to astound me with her writing.

I still am continuing to read the Sherlock Holmes novels and short stories and Pillar of Fire, the second in the America in the King Years series, by Taylor Branch, something I will continue into March.

Highlights of the month include our getting a new table set for our kitchen, our watching the movie Knives Out (which was very good) and having a day off this past and my taking the day off this past Wednesday for Ash Wednesday.

March: We have no special plans, but I am taking a vacation day for the first day of Spring, which comes this year on Thursday, March 19. If the weather cooperates, maybe I’ll get out for a hike that day in the nearby Pennsylvania Grand Canyon to celebrate the changing of the seasons.

The only other thing I know for sure that I’m adding to my reading for March is Lent Is Not Rocket Science: An Exploration of God, Creation, and the Cosmos: Meditations for 40 Days of Lent by W. Nicholas Knisely, the 13th and current bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Rhode Island.

On the TV and movies front, I guess the movie I’m most looking forward to seeing is Jumanji: The Next Level, which comes out on DVD and streaming on March 17. The first one was a pleasant surprise and I’m hoping the second one will be good too. Last month, we also watched the Zombieland sequel: Double Tap and enjoyed that so hope we will continue our success with sequels.

I’ll leave you with this, from my favorite contemporary composer:

Posts from February:

Pushing Forward Back January/February 2020

January’s gone…with the wind, but it was a good breeze to start the year at least personally. I read three books, including my first book of the year. I also got a Mi Band 4, similar to a Fitbit, to help encourage myself to walk daily. And I found a new place to walk and read on Saturdays: the library at a local state university.

The three books I read (even though I inexplicably overlooked the second in a post about my second book of the year) were:

  1. Meditations by Marcus Aurelius
  2. A Call to Conscience: The Landmark Speeches of Dr. Martin Luther King, edited by Clayborne Carson and Kris Shepard
  3. Over My Dead Body, the seventh in the Nero Wolfe series, by Rex Stout.

I joined, and then “unjoined” after talking two other people into it, an online Haruki Murakami Book Club. I also joined the Poetry Reading Challenge 2020.

Watched

  • King in the Wilderness (HBO documentary about Martin Luther King, Jr.)
  • The Librarians

Listened To

  • The Undivided Five by A Winged Victory for the Sullen
  • Have We Met by Destroyer

February is starting slow and deliberate as I refocus my reading plans for the month and the year. I work two Saturdays this month, have off three Fridays (two before the Saturdays I work and another Friday, Valentine’s Day, as a vacation day) and am taking off Ash Wednesday as has been my custom for many years. My wife and I also will begin the month with our traditional watching of the movie Groundhog Day.

I think this year, though, while watching the movie, we are skipping the “sweet vermouth with a twist, please” and are going straight to “Jim Beam, ice, water.” We tried the drink Andie McDowell’s character Rita Hanson orders in the movie a few years ago and hated it, so we’re going with the first choice of Bill Murray’s character Phil Connors. Plus with the way, the month and year are starting politically, we believe we need a stiff drink. For that reason, we also are delaying our rewatch until Wednesday night – after the vote.

This photo pretty much captures how I feel about winter right now:

I’m feeling like Phil earlier in the movie:

It’s going to be cold, it’s going to be dark and it’s going to last you the rest of your lives.

But hopefully soon I’ll have his later perspective:

When Chekhov saw the long winter, he saw a winter bleak and dark and bereft of hope. Yet we know that winter is just another step in the cycle of life. But standing here among the people of Punxsutawney and basking in the warmth of their hearths and hearts, I couldn’t imagine a better fate than a long and lustrous winter.

Of course, the groundhog Phil today did predict an early spring, but as CNN noted: “Don’t get too excited, he’s usually wrong.”

To watch

  • The Farewell on Amazon Prime Video (Feb. 12)
  • Narcos: Mexico: Season 2 on Netflix (Feb. 13)
  • High Fidelity, the TV series on Hulu (Feb. 14)

To listen to

  • The Slow Rush by Tame Impala (Feb. 14)
  • Miss Anthropocene by Grimes (Feb. 21)

Oh, and obviously I’m not watching the Super Bowl. I had loose plans to go watch the Super Bowl with a neighbor, but as I’m posting this as the game is beginning, obviously the plans were loose. No biggie. I’d rather be reading.

My Top 25 Albums of 2019

Earlier this month, I posted My Top 60 Albums of the 2010s. I also posted my Top 5 Albums of 2019 within another post on my favorite books, TV shows, movies and albums of this past year.

Now I’m expanding the list to 25 albums. I chose one song from each album, with the playlist not being a countdown, but organized alphabetically by first name of artist or group with album title. Since on the playlist it doesn’t show the title of each album, I am including the full list here along with the year each album was released.

I also am including a second list of another 25 albums of honorable mentions, some that I only discovered within the past week, thanks to top album lists around the Internet.

The Top 25

  • Angel Olsen – All Mirrors
  • Anthony Naples – Fog FM
  • Beyoncé – Homecoming: The Live Album (2019)
  • Big Thief – U.F.O.F.
  • Bon Iver – i, i
  • Bruce Springsteen – Western Stars
  • The Chemical Brothers – No Geography
  • Dave – PSYCHODRAMA
  • FKA Twigs – MAGDALENE
  • The Hold Steady – Thrashing Thru The Passion
  • Jenny Lewis – On The Line
  • Lambchop – This (Is What I Wanted To Tell You)
  • Lana Del Rey – Norman Fucking Rockwell
  • LCD Soundsystem – Electric Lady Sessions
  • Little Simz – GREY Area
  • Nilufer Yanya – Miss Universe
  • Powder – Powder in Space
  • Prince – Originals
  • Rocketship – Thanks To You
  • SAULT – 5
  • Sharon Van Etten – Remind Me Tomorrow
  • Tyler, The Creator – IGOR
  • Vampire Weekend – Father of the Bride
  • Weyes Blood – Titanic Rising
  • Yves Jarvis – The Same But By Different Means

The 25 Honorable Mentions

  • Better Oblivion Community Center – Better Oblivion Community Center
  • Burial – Tunes 2011-2019
  • Carly Rae Jepsen – Dedicated
  • CHAI – PUNK
  • Che Apalache – Rearrange My Heart
  • Dermot Kennedy – Without Fear
  • Dry Cleaning – Sweet Princess EP
  • FEELS – Post Earth
  • Floating Points – Crush
  • Four Tet – Anna Painting
  • Helado Negro – This Is How You Smile
  • Jamila Woods – LEGACY! LEGACY!
  • Jenny Hval – The Practice of Love
  • Joan Shelley – Like The River Loves The Sea
  • Kim Lenz – Slowly Speeding
  • KOKOKO! – Fongola
  • Mannequin Pussy – Patience
  • Moodyman – Sinner: KDJ-48
  • Nilufer Yanya – Miss Universe
  • ODD OKODO – Auma
  • Orville Peck – Pony
  • Rapsody – Eve
  • Robert Ellis – Texas Piano Man
  • Santana – Africa Speaks
  • Sofia Kourtesis – Sofia Kourtesis

I did not make a playlist (yet) for these honorable mentions, but I encourage you to seek them out on the platform of your choice in the meantime.

What were the albums that you had on heavy rotation this past year? Share in the comments below or link to your own list on your blog or a playlist on the music service of your choice.

#AMonthofFaves 2019: My Top 5 Books, TV Shows, Movies, and Albums of 2019

All this month, I’m joining Tanya & Kimberly at Girlxoxo and Tamara at Traveling with T for their annual #AMonthofFaves blog event – a fun way to recap the year that was. They have a schedule of topics planned out for 14 days and while I don’t plan to have a post for each topic, I do plan on having a post for several of them. To see the entire list, visit #AMonthofFaves 2019 [Blog Event] Announcement. Today’s topic is the fifth for the month: On the Screen or in Your Ear – What did you watch this year that you absolutely loved and did you see any movies inspired by books you’ve read – what did you think? Or, what are some of your favorite podcasts, audiobooks or songs / albums that you listened to and have on repeat?

I already covered my top 5 books in a previous post for A Month of Faves on Popular Books Worth The Hype, but I thought I’d include them here since it made the graphic below symmetrical:

A few caveats and explanations:

  • On Sunday, I also made a list of My Top 60 Albums of the 2010s, with the four of the five albums from 2019 included in that list. The only one I didn’t, i,i by Bon Iver, is because I chose 22, A Million instead for the decade.
  • I discovered four of the five TV shows through Hulu and found The Brokenwood Mysteries through Hoopla at the Free Library of Philadelphia.
  • I have not seen Once Upon A Time in Hollywood, The Irishman or Marriage Story yet, but my wife and I both want to see all three in the near future. I have a feeling at least one, if not all three, will change this list or at least be added to the list of my top movies for this year.
  • Powder in Space is technically not an album but a DJ mixtape by the Japanese DJ Momoko Goto, who produces and performs under the name “Powder.”
  • I had all five of the albums on heavy rotation this year and I anticipate that I will have one released last month, MAGDALENE by FKA Twigs, on heavy rotation in the coming year.
  • Four of my top five albums are on the The 50 Best Albums of 2019 list from Pitchfork The Father of the Bride, No. 25; Homecoming, No, 14; i, i, No. 16; Norman F***ing Rockwell!, No. 1, and that last one rightly so at No. 1, in my and my wife’s opinion. I like several of the other albums on the list including especially the ones at No. 2, MAGDALENE; Big Thief’s U.F.O.F. at No. 3 and Angel Olsen’s All Mirrors at No. 4, but I really haven’t listened to them a lot…yet, but I anticipate I will.
  • For all you bookish folks, the one movie on my list you need to see is Can You Ever Forgive Me?, which is based on the book of the same name by Lee Israel, portrayed brilliantly here by Melissa McCarthy. I have not read the book, but loved the movie (obviously, to include it in my top 5).

What were your favorite books read, TV shows and movies and/or albums read this year even if they weren’t released this year?