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Monday, November 11, 2019

Music Week

Expanded blog post, November archive (in progress).

Music: Current count 32345 [32307] rated (+38), 221 [220] unrated (+1).

Pressure continues to build on my psych crisis. Hoped for a break today, but may have underestimated the holiday. Maybe tomorrow? I've been in a rut for nearly a month, getting damn little done. Still, might as well knock this out. Don't actually have much to say about it, anyway.

Next week will either be much better . . . or worse.


New records reviewed this week:

  • Ben Allison/Steve Cardenas/Ted Nash: Quiet Revolution (2018, Sonic Camera): [r]: B+(***)
  • Byron Asher: Byron Asher's Skrontch Music (2018 [2019], Sinking City): [r]: B+(**)
  • The Bad Plus: Activate Infinity (2019, Edition): [r]: B+(**)
  • Kenny Barron & Mulgrew Miller: The Art of Piano Duo: Live (2005-11 [2019], Sunnyside): [r]: A-
  • Harold Danko/Kirk Knuffke: Play Date (2018 [2019], SteepleChase): [r]: B+(***)
  • David Friesen Circle 3 Trio: Interaction (2018 [2019], Origin, 2CD): [cd]: B+(***) [11-15]
  • Andy Fusco: Vortex (2017 [2019], SteepleChase): [r]: B+(**)
  • Mary Halvorson & John Dieterich: A Tangle of Stars (2018 [2019], New Amsterdam): [r]: B+(**)
  • Kevin Hays/Mark Turner/Marc Miralta: Where Are You (2018 [2019], Fresh Sound New Talent): [r]: B+(***)
  • Zlatko Kaucic Quintet: Morning Patches (2018 [2019], Fundacja Sluchaj): [bc]: B+(*)
  • Michael Kiwanuka: Kiwanuka (2019, Polydor): [r]: B+(*)
  • Kronos Quartet: Terry Riley: Sun Rings (2019, Nonesuch): [r]: B
  • Travis Laplante: Human (2018 [2019], New Amsterdam): [r]: B
  • Jeffrey Lewis & the Voltage: Bad Wiring (2019, Don Giovanni): [r]: B+(***)
  • Joe Morris & Evan Parker: The Village (2014 [2019], Fundacja Sluchaj): [bc]: B+(**)
  • Ted Nash/Steve Cardenas/Ben Allison: Somewhere Else: West Side Story Songs (2019, Plastic Sax): [r]: B+(**)
  • One O'Clock Lab Band: Lab 2019 (2019, North Texas Jazz): [cd]: B+(*) [11-22]
  • Evan Parker/Lotte Anker/Torben Snekkestad: Inferences (2016 [2019], Fundacja Sluchaj): [bc]: B+(*)
  • Marta Sánchez Quintet: El Rayo De Luz (2019, Fresh Sound New Talent): [cd]: A-
  • Sirkis/Bialas IQ: Our New Earth (2018 [2019], Moonjune, 2CD): [cd]: B+(**)
  • That Dog: Old LP (2019, UMe): [r]: B+(**)
  • Jeremy Udden: Three in Paris (2018 [2019], Sunnyside): [r]: B+(***)
  • Michael Zilber: East West: Music for Big Bands (2018 [2019], Origin, 2CD): [cd]: B+(*) [11-15]

Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:

  • Bulawayo Blue Yodel (1950s [2019], Olvido): [bc]: B+(**)
  • Lloyd McNeill: Treasures (1970 [2019], Soul Jazz): [r]: B+(**)
  • Lee Moses: How Much Longer Must I Wait? Singles & Rarities 1965-1972 (1965-72 [2019], Light in the Attic): [bc]: B+(**)
  • Phil Ranelin: Collected 2003-2019 (2003-19 [2019], Wide Hive, 2CD): [r]: A-
  • Tribe: Hometown: Detroit Sessions 1990-2014 (1990-2014 [2019], Art Yard/Strut): [r]: B+(***)

Old music:

  • Ben Allison: The Stars Look Very Different Today (2013, Sonic Camera): [r]: B+(*)
  • Ben Allison: Layers of the City (2017, Sonic Camera): [r]: B+(**)
  • Harold Danko: After the Rain (1994 [1995], SteepleChase): [r]: B+(**)
  • Harold Danko Quartet: Tidal Breeze (1995-96 [1997], SteepleChase): [r]: B+(***)
  • Lloyd McNeill and Marshall Hawkins: Tanner Suite (1969 [2015], Universal Sound): [r]: B+(*)
  • Lee Moses: Time and Place (1971, Maple): [r]: B+(***)
  • Phil Ranelin: A Close Encounter of the Very Best Kind (1996, Lifeforce): [r]: B+(***)
  • Phil Ranelin: Living a New Day (2005, Wide hive): [r]: B+(**)
  • Phil Ranelin & Tribe Renaissance: Reminiscence: Live! (2009, Wide Hive): [r]: B+(***)
  • Phil Ranelin: Portrait in Blue (2015, Wide Hive): [r]: B+(***)
  • Pamela Samiha Wise: A New Message From the Tribe (2017, Tribe): [r]: B+(**)


Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • Lolly Allen: Coming Home (OA2) [11-15]
  • The Diva Jazz Orchestra: Diva + the Boys (MCG Jazz)
  • Rozina Pátkai: Taladim (Tom-Tom)
  • Charlie Porter: Immigration Nation (OA2) [11-15]
  • Bob Ravenscroft & Inner Journeys: Phantasmagoria (OA2) [11-15]
  • Toh-Kichi: Baikamo (Libra)

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Weekend Roundup

Another "going through the motions" week, so no introduction. I noted a friend of a friend commenting that people don't realize how much time it's going to take after the 2020 election to undo the damage Trump has inflicted (and is continuing to, no doubt with a special flurry after he gets beat, including a bunch of pre-emptive pardons). This person was citing the difficulties Laura Kelly has faced since becoming governor of Kansas, but it's a general rule. For me, the best election news last week was the defeat of Wichita Mayor Jeff Longwell, who spent his term making shady deals with real estate developers. One of those was to wreck McLean Boulevard, which used to hug the river from 13th North to Pawnee (23rd South), but now will have its downtown passage moved so realtors can offer exclusive river views. Unlikely that would ever have passed a public vote, but it's also unlikely that the new mayor will be able to undo the blight. Of course, a big part of Kelly's problem is that the state legislature is still controlled by Republicans. The bigger the Democratic wave in 2020, but more a new president will be able to do. But still, the task list is daunting, and growing every day.


Some scattered links this week:

Monday, November 04, 2019

Music Week

Expanded blog post, November archive (in progress).

Music: current count 32307 [32276] rated (+31), 220 [224] unrated (-4).

Not as physically miserable on waking up this morning as last, but more deeply troubled. Figured I'd get even by doing a long groan and rant here, but 9-10 hours later, when I finally got started, all I wanted was the day to be over with. So I'll spare you the details on two major personal crises, other than to note that one I made some headway on today, and the other I sensibly put off until tomorrow. That leaves two or three technical problems that are easier to talk about. The one that bothers me most is the new computer.

To recap, I order a bunch of parts to build a new computer:

  • AMD Ryzen 7 2700X 8-Core 3.2GHz CPU
  • ASRock X570 Steel Legend Motherboard
  • G.SKILL TridentZ RGB Series 64GB (4x16GB) DDR4 3000 SDRAM
  • XFX Radeon RX 570 RS 8Gb Graphics Card
  • Intel 660p Series M.2 1TB Solid State Drive (SSD)
  • Lite-On DVD Burner SATA
  • Corsair RM Series 750W Full Modular Power Supply
  • Fractal Design Focus G Mid Tower ATX Computer Case
  • AmazonBasics DisplayPort 6 Foot Cable
  • Logitech M705 Cordless Mouse
  • Samsung 32-Inch UJ59 UHD 3840x2160 Monitor

I'm reusing a Logitech K740 Mechanical Keyboard, plus (for now) a pretty cheap set of speakers -- gear originally attached to an old (and pathetically slow) machine that will be retired (or maybe used as a print server, as it's the last machine standing with a parallel port for my HP Laser Printer). Originally I misread the motherboard specs and thought I could make do with onboard video, but turned out that was dependent on a different CPU, so I had to add the video card. When I did install the card, the machine came up nicely, and I loaded Xubuntu 18.04 LTS easily enough.

Main problem I ran into then was that the default fonts were awful small on the high-resolution monitor, so I've had to find the various places where they are defined and tweak them up. The new machine is as powerful as I expected. However, I ran into a problem: the machine freezes after some period of inactivity. I've spent 3-4 days chasing after this problem, and still don't have a handle on it.

The obvious suspect is the power save and screen lock functions of the window manager. I've scaled them back (and eliminated light-locker all together). That eliminated the blank screen, but the system would leave either just wallpaper or the full workspace window when it freezes (in which state neither mouse nor keyboard wakes it up). I wondered whether parts of the window manager crashed, in which case it should be possible to ssh in from another machine -- but active ssh sessions are disconnected when the machine freezes. I've poured through syslogs, but have yet to find anything enlightening (obviously have more of that to do). The box felt a bit warm to me, so I wondered about thermal. Inserting an instant read thermometer through the back grill registers 93F, which doesn't strike me as unusually hot. Also, the timing always follows inactivity -- I played music for about 5 hours last night, then it shut down a few minutes after the music stopped.

Good news, I suppose, is that reset wakes it up, and reboot is pretty quick. Still, the most vexing problem I've run across in 6-8 computer builds -- rather dispiriting given my age and psychic frailty. Also, I shot way pass my original budget, so I'm extra reluctant to swap in extra new hardware. Plus this has come at a time when I'm also having to deal with repair/replace questions on dishwasher and car. One bit of good news is that I seem to have managed to repair the dishwasher leak.

[PS: I have ascertained that the freeze is a kernel panic, more specifically a watchdog timer detecting a soft lockup during a system call (timeout is 20 seconds). This indicates a bug in a kernel module, although I suppose it could be caused by a hardware fault. I need to better understand the context to figure out how to fix the problem or work around it. It would be helpful to get a call trace, which would map the source back to an application program.]


Not much to say about this week's music. Swapping out the old computer before getting the new one working forced me to spend more time working off the promo queue than streaming. As for the "old music," I picked up a friendly download of Carmen McRae's Live at the Dug -- one of the few records recommended in Will Friedland's The Great Jazz and Pop Vocal Albums I hadn't heard), and thought I'd check out a few more promising albums without taking a deep dive.

In recent weeks I've been the best-reviewed new albums plus identifying other new ones of exceptional interest. Not much to report on that front this week: top-rated this week was Michael Kiwanuka: Kiwanuka (12), followed by Miranda Lambert: Wildcard (7), and Sudan Archives: Athena (4). The other new release that looks most promising is: Jeffrey Lewis & the Voltage: Bad Wiring.

Among records I previously reviewed, the best to finally appear last week were: Roger Kellaway: The Many Open Minds of Roger Kellaway [A-]; and Roberto Magris: Sun Stone [***].


New records reviewed this week:

  • Areni Agbabian: Bloom (2016 [2019], ECM): [r]: B
  • The Carter Family: Across Generations (2019, Reviver Legacy): [r]: B
  • Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds: Ghosteen (2019, Ghosteen/Bad Seeds): [r]: B
  • Clipping.: There Existed an Addiction to Blood (2019, Sub Pop): [r]: B+(*)
  • Dave Douglas: Engage (2018 [2019], Greenleaf Music): [cd]: A- [11-08]
  • Nick Dunston: Atlantic Extraction (2019, Out of Your Head): [cd]: B+(**)
  • Lorenzo Feliciati/Michele Rabbia: Antikythera (2019, RareNoise): [cdr]: B+(**)
  • Floating Points: Crush (2019, Ninja Tune): [r]: B+(**)
  • Calabria Foti: Prelude to a Kiss (2019, Moco): [cd]: B
  • Hal Galper Trio: The Zone: Live at the Yardbird Suite (2016 [2019], Origin): [cd]: A- [11-15]
  • Francesco Guerri: Su Mimmi Non Si Spara! (2019, RareNoise): [cdr]: B+(**)
  • Jerome Jennings: Solidarity (2019, Iola): [cd]: B+(***) [11-09]
  • Per Texas Johansson: Strĺk Pĺ Himlen Och Stora Hus (2019, Moserobie): [cd]: B+(***)
  • Lakou Mizik: HaitiaNola (2019, Cumbancha): [r]: B+(*)
  • Miranda Lambert: Wildcard (2019, RCA Nashville): [r]: A-
  • Joăo Lencastre's Communion 3: Song(s) of Hope (2019, Clean Feed): [bc]: B+(**)
  • Chris Lightcap: SuperBigmouth (2019, Pyroclastic): [r]: B
  • Lil Tjay: True 2 Myself (2019, Columbia): [r]: B+(*)
  • Fredrik Ljungkvist Trio: Atlantis (2019, Moserobie): [cd]: B+(***)
  • Maurice Louca: Elephantine (2019, Northern Spy): [r]: B+(*)
  • Nellie McKay: Bagatelles (2019, Palmetto, EP): [r]: B+(*)
  • MIKE: Tears of Joy (2019, 10k): [bc]: B+(**)
  • Mute: Mute (2018 [2019], Fresh Sound New Talent): [cd]: A- [12-13]
  • The Niro Featuring Gary Lucas: The Complete Jeff Buckley and Gary Lucas Songbook (2019, Esordisco): [cd]: B [11-08]
  • Northern Ranger: Eastern Stranger (2019, self-released, EP): [cdr]: B+(**)
  • Nicholas Payton: Relaxin' With Nick (2019, Smoke Sessions, 2CD): [r]: B+(**)
  • Roberta Piket: Domestic Harmony: Piket Plays Mintz (2019, Thirteenth Note): [cd]: B+(**) [12-06]
  • Polo G: Die a Legend (2019, Columbia): [r]: B+(**)
  • Neil Young & Crazy Horse: Colorado (2019, Reprise): [r]: B+(***)

Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:

  • James Brown: Live at Home With His Bad Self (1969 [2019], Polydor): [r]: A-
  • Johnny Griffin & Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis: Ow! Live at the Penthouse (1962 [2019], Reel to Reel): [cd]: A-

Old music:

  • Carmen McRae: Torchy (1955, Decca): [r]: B+(**)
  • Carmen McRae: Sings Lover Man and Other Billie Holiday Classics (1961 [1962,1997], Columbia/Legacy): [r]: B+(***)
  • Carmen McRae: As Time Goes By: Carmen McRae Alone Live at the Dug (1973 [1974], Victor): [r]: B+(***)


Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • David Friesen Circle 3 Trio: Interaction (Origin, 2CD) [11-15]
  • Hal Galper Trio: The Zone: Live at the Yardbird Suite (Origin) [11-15]
  • Roberta Piket: Domestic Harmony: Piket Plays Mintz (Thirteenth Note) [12-06]
  • Marta Sánchez Quintet: El Rayo De Luz (Fresh Sound New Talent) [11-22]
  • Jim Snidero: Project-K (Savant) [01-24-2020]
  • Sirkis/Ballas IQ: Our New Earth (Moonjune)
  • Michael Zilber: East West: Music for Big Bands (Origin, 2CD) [11-15]

Daily Log

Got a "summons for jury service" from the 18th Judicial District Court, Sedgwick County, Kansas. Filling the form out online, and on paper.

"The clerk may be contacted by telephone at (316) 660-9101, by fax at (316) 941-5355, by email at jury@dc18.org, or via the Kansas Relay Center at 1-800-766-3777."

Sunday, November 03, 2019

Weekend Roundup

Late getting into this, and beset by more problems than I can cope with these days, so no introduction. Nothing fundamentally different. Just lots more of the same old shit.


Some scattered links this week:

Etc.

Picked up the following link during my search, before realizing that it was old:

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Book Reports

Another batch of 40 brief notes on recently published books -- the third I've published this year, after March 15 and June 1. Actually, a good deal more than 40 books mentioned below, as I've tacked on lists of related books where it seemed appropriate and useful -- in some cases, the list is probably the point. Inclusion in a list doesn't guarantee that I'll never write a book up separately, but usually satisfies my sense of duty.

While the dates above seem to suggest a regular, orderly process, I only managed to do this once in 2018, and twice in 2017 (here and here), so I feel like I'm working my way out of a deep hole. Indeed, I have 55 more-or-less written entries in my scratch file for later, so I could do a fourth one next week, or at least by the end of the year. Oh, and that doesn't count the merely noted titles that follow the top 40 -- 46 more of them in the file, but I'll list some of them to end this post.

Worth noting that I have read (or am working on) the books I have cover art for on the right. Kate Brown's book on Chernobyl is probably the "best read" of the bunch. Just started Poniewozik's Audience of One, and he's scoring points from the very start (unlike, say, Tim Alberta, who wants you to regard John Boehner and Paul Ryan as normal, decent human beings). I checked out Astra Taylor's Democracy May Not Exist but We'll Miss It When It's Gone, but ran out of time before I got deep enough into it to count. I bought a copy of Stanley Greenberg's RIP GOP, but haven't gotten to it yet -- I figure it's next in queue after Poniewozik, but a lot of what I've read recently has been plucked opportunistically from the city library.

It occurs to me that I should probably do a whole piece on music, but these days I never find the time to read up on what's supposed to be my specialty. Still, I have a handful of music books in the draft file, starting with Robert Christgau's Book Reports: A Music Critic on His First Love, Which Was Reading, and John Corbett's Pick Up the Pieces: Excursions in Seventies Music. I also started a list entry on cookbooks, which could grow into a specialized post -- not least because I do regularly buy and use cookbooks.


Tim Alberta: American Carnage: On the Front Lines of the Republican Civil War and the Rise of President Trump (2019, Harper). It's pretty easy now to see how everything Republicans did from 1968 to 2016 paved the way for electing this crass, bigoted grifter and sham. Nixon laid the foundation with his crass appeals to racists and reactionaries, his Orwellian "peace with honor" (a tactical retreat covered by real and feigned escalation), above all his conviction that winning is the only thing that matters, and that excuses all manner of criminality. Reagan put a sunnier face on an even darker heart. Ditto the Bushes, less artfully. Alberta only picks up this digression in 2008, with the Sarah Palin boomlet, and 2009, with the Tea Party eruption, then goes on to show how Trump won the party over, delivering the one thing they craved most of all: winning. Of course, you know all of that, but Alberta puts you in the rooms as the party brass figures it out and comes to terms with their debasement. Some other recent books on how we got to Trump:

  • Jim Acosta: The Enemy of the People: A Dangerous Time to Tell the Truth in America (2019, Harper).
  • Dale Beran: It Came From Something Awful: How a Toxic Troll Army Accidentally Memed Donald Trump Into Office (2019, All Points Books).
  • Barry Levine/Monique El-Faizy: All the President's Women: Donald Trump and the Making of a Predator (2019, Hachette Books).
  • Amanda Marcotte: Troll Nation: How the Right Became Trump-Worshipping Monsters Set on Ratf*cking Liberals, America, and Truth Itself (2018, Hot Books).
  • Joy-Ann Reid: The Man Who Sold America: Trump and the Unraveling of the American Story (2019, William Morrow).
  • Rick Reilly: Commander in Cheat: How Golf Explains Trump (2019, Hachette Books).
  • Nathan J Robinson: Trump: Anatomy of a Monster (paperback, 2017, Demilune Press).
  • Michael Wolff: Siege: Trump Under Fire (2019, Henry Holt).

Binyamin Appelbaum: The Economists' Hour: False Prophets, Free Markets, and the Fracture of Society (2019, Little Brown): A history of the growing influence and power of economists from 1969, when economists were kept to the basement of the Federal Reserve, to 2008, when the world transformed by their fundamentalist faith in markets crashed and nearly burned. In between, business and political interests looked to economists for help, and many economists strove to service their masters. One line I noted: "Conservatism was a coalition of the powerful, defending the status quo against threats real and imagined." More recent books on economics:

  • Abhijit V Banerjee/Esther Duflo: Good Economics for Hard Times (2019, Little Brown).
  • David G Blanchflower: Not Working: Where Have All the Good Jobs Gone? (2019, Princeton University Press).
  • Heather Boushey: Unbound: How Inequality Constricts Our Economy and What We Can Do About It (2019, Harvard University Press).
  • Thomas Philippon: The Great Reversal: How America Gave Up on Free Markets (2019, Belknap Press).
  • Katharina Pistor: The Code of Capital: How the Law Creates Wealth and Inequality (2019, Princeton University Press).
  • Robert J Shiller: Narrative Economics: How Stories Go Viral & Drive Major Economic Events (2019, Princeton University Press).
  • Jean Tirole: Economics for the Common Good (2017; paperback, 2019, Princeton University Press).
  • Janek Wasserman: The Marginal Revolutionaries: How Austrian Economists Fought the War of Ideas (2019, Yale University Press).

Kathleen Belew: Bring the War Home: The White Power Movement and Paramilitary America (2018; paperback, 2019, Harvard University Press): Locates the roots of the alt-right/white power movement less in opposition to the civil rights movement than in reaction against the loss of the Vietnam War -- though either way you can see how Richard Nixon's "silent majority"/"Southern strategy" conjured up the seething hatred of this movement, which Trump has only stoked further. More recent books on the racist right-wing fringe:

  • Kyle Burke: Revolutionaries for the Right: Anticommunist Internationalism and Paramilitary Warfare in the Cold War (2018, University of North Carolina Press).
  • George Hawley: The Alt-Right: What Everyone Needs to Know (paperback, 2018, Oxford University Press).
  • Daryl Johnson: Hateland: A Long, Hard Look at America's Extremist Heart (2019, Prometheus).
  • George Lipsitz: The Possessive Investment in Whiteness: How White People Profit From Identity Politics (1998; revised and expanded edition, paperback, 2006; 20th anniversary edition, paperback, 2018, Temple University Press).
  • Michael Malice: The New Right: A Journey to the Fringe of American Politics (2019, All Points Books).
  • Elizabeth Gillespie McRae: Mothers of Massive Resistance: White Women and the Politics of White Supremacy (2018, Oxford University Press).
  • Angie Maxwell/Todd Shields: The Long Southern Strategy: How Chasing White Voters in the South Changed American Politics (2019, Oxford University Press).
  • Jonathan M Metzl: Dying of Whiteness: How the Politics of Racial Resentment Is Killing America's Heartland (2019, Basic Books).
  • David Neiwert: Alt-America: The Rise of the Radical Right in the Age of Trump (2017; paperback, 2018, Verso).
  • Christian Picciolini: White American Youth: My Descent Into America's Most Violent Hate Movement -- and How I Got Out (paperback, 2017, Hachette Books).
  • Eli Saslow: Rising Out of Hatred: The Awakening of a Former White Nationalist (paperback; 2019, Anchor Books).
  • Alexandra Minna Stern: Proud Boys and the White Ethnostate: How the Alt-Right Is Warping the American Imagination (2019, Beacon Press).
  • John Temple: Up in Arms: How the Bundy Family Hijacked Public Lands, Outfoxed the Federal Government, and Ignited America's Patriot Militia Movement (2019, BenBella Books).
  • Vegas Tenold: Everything You Love Will Burn: Inside the Rebirth of White Nationalism in America (2018, Bold Type Books).
  • Mike Wendling: Alt-Right: From 4Chan to the White House (paperback, 2018, Pluto Press).

Marcia Bjornerud: Timefulness: How Thinking Like a Geologist Can Help Save the World (2018, Princeton University Press): After my first wife died, I went through a period of several years where most of what I read was on geology, ranging from semi-popular books like John McPhee's I-70 quartet (later collected as Annals of the Former World) through some very technical texts on plate tectonics, plus a lot of paleontology and contemporary earth science. I suppose a big part of the attraction came from the vast time frameworks geologists routinely deal with, but I was also much impressed by the logic behind the science: how geologists work and think. Since 9/11, I've denied myself the indulgence of pursuing such pleasant interests. Otherwise this book would jump to the top of my reading list. Some other geology books that caught my eye:

  • Michael J Benton: Dinosaurs Rediscovered: The Scientific Revolution in Paleontology (2019, Thames & Hudson).
  • Marcia Bjornerud: Reading the Rocks: The Autogiography of the Earth (2005; paperback, 2006, Basic Books).
  • Lewis Dartnell: Origins: How Earth's History Shaped Human History (2019, Basic Books).
  • William E Glassley: A Wilder Time: Notes From a Geologist at the Edge of the Greenland Ice (paperback, 2018, Bellevue Literary Press).
  • Mary Caperton Morton: Aerial Geology: A High-Altitude Tour of North America's Spectacular Volcanoes, Canyons, Glaciers, Lakes, Craters, and Peaks (2017, Timber Press).
  • Donald R Prothero: The Story of Life in 25 Fossils: Tales of Intrepid Fossil Hunters and the Wonders of Evolution (2015, Columbia University Press).
  • Donald R Prothero: The Story of the Earth in 25 Rocks: Tales of Important Geological Puzzles and the People Who Solved Them (2017, Columbia University Press).

Kate Brown: Manual for Survival: A Chernobyl Guide to the Future (2019, WW Norton): History of the 1986 nuclear plant explosion at Chernobyl, Ukraine, Soviet Union, but less on the explosion than on the disaster it spread, especially the faulty, fitful efforts to understand (or in some case not) the widespread effects of the radiation it left. Author has written a couple of books leading up to this one, and there's been a spate of recent books on Chernobyl and so forth:

  • Svetlana Alexievich: Voices From Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster (2005; paperback, 2019, Dalkey Archive Press): This is the classic book everyone draws on. The author later won the Nobel Prize for Literature for her oral histories of WWII and the postwar Soviet Union.
  • Kate Brown: A Biography of No Place: From Ethnic Borderland to Soviet Hinterland (2004; paperback, 2005, Harvard University Press).
  • Kate Brown: Dispatches From Dystopia: Histories of Places Not Yet Forgotten (2015, University of Chicago Press).
  • Kate Brown: Plutopia: Nuclear Families, Atomic Cities, and the Great Soviet and American Plutonium Disasters (2013; paperback, 2015, Oxford University Press).
  • Charles A Castro: Station Blackout: Inside the Fukushima Nuclear Disaster and Recovery (2018, Radius).
  • Adam Higginbotham: Midnight in Chernobyl: The Untold Story of the World's Greatest Nuclear Disaster (2019, Simon & Schuster).
  • Andrew Leatherbarrow: Chernobyl 01:23:40: The Incredible True Story of the World's Worst Nuclear Disaster (paperback, 2016, Andrew Leatherbarrow).
  • Serhii Plokhy: Chernobyl: The History of a Nuclear Catastrophe (2018, Basic Books).
  • Silent Bill: Of Dust and Echoes: A Tour of the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone (paperback, 2019, self-published).

Elizabeth C Economy: The Third Revolution: Xi Jinping and the New Chinese State (2018, Oxford University Press): A history of China since Xi Jinping came to power, bringing a series of reforms distinct enough from Deng Xioping's "second revolution" reforms to merit the title. I'm not really up enough on the subject to judge, but it seems that China has found a very different path to development -- one that Americans are especially ill-prepared to understand. Other recent books on contemporary China:

  • Elizabeth C Economy/Michael Levi: By All Means Necessary: How China's Resource Quest Is Changing the World (2014; paperback, 2015, Oxford University Press).
  • Graham Allison: Destined for War: Can America and China Escape Thucydides's Trap? (2017, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt).
  • Yuen Yuen Ang: How China Escaped the Poverty Trap (2016, Cornell University Press).
  • Yukon Huang: Cracking the China Conundrum: Why Conventional Economic Wisdom Is Wrong (2017, Oxford University Press).
  • Sulimaan Wasif Khan: Haunted by Chaos: China's Grand Strategy From Mao Zedong to Xi Jiping (2018, Harvard University Press).
  • Bruno Maçăes: Belt and Road: A Chinese World Order (2019, Hurst).
  • George Magnus: Red Flags: Why Xi's China Is in Jeopardy (2018, Yale University Press).
  • Dinny McMahon: China's Great Wall of Debt: Shadow Banks, Ghost Cities, Massive Loans, and the End of the Chinese Miracle (2018, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt).
  • Tom Miller: China's Asian Dream: Empire Building Along the New Silk Road (paperback, 2017, Zed Books).
  • Carl Minzner: End of an Era: How China's Authoritarian Revival Is Undermining Its Rise (2018, Oxford University Press).
  • Klaus Mühlhahn: Making China Modern: From the Great Qing to Xi Jinping (2019, Belknap Press).
  • Evan Osnos: Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth, and Faith in the New China (2014; paperback, 2015, Farrar Straus and Giroux).
  • William H Overholt: China's Crisis of Success (paperback, 2018, Cambridge University Press).
  • Robert S Ross/Jo Inge Bekkevold, eds: China in the Era of Xi Jinping: Domestic and Foreign Policy Challenges (paperback, 2016, Georgetown University Press).

Richard J Evans: Eric Hobsbawm: A Life in History (2019, Oxford University Press): A big (800 pp) biography of a great historian, born in Egypt of 2nd generation British parents, orphaned at 14 in 1931, living in Berlin at the time, fleeing to England when the Nazis came to power, joined the Communist Party, went on to write major histories of Europe in the 19th and 20th centuries. The author is a notable historian in his own right, his writings including three major books on Nazi Germany (The Third Reich Trilogy).

Adam Gopnik: A Thousand Small Sanities: The Moral Adventure of Liberalism (2019, Basic Books): A staff writer for The New Yorker, seems like he's mostly written about innocuous topics, like art, travel, food, and (mostly) himself, so this foray into political philosophy ("a manifesto rooted in the lives of people who invented and extended the liberal tradition") comes as a bit of a surprise. Or maybe just to me, as his bibliographic note opens with a fairly long list of essays he has published on political figures. The central section of the book consists of three parts: a "manifesto," followed by chapters on "Why the Right Hates Liberalism" and "Why the Left Hates Liberalism" (the longest). If he's honest, the reasons are very different: the right fears any challenge to hierarchical order, while the left sees liberals as too willing to compromise their principles, because in a world of individualism self-interest is ultimately decisive. I recall being very critical of liberalism back in the late 1960s, when it seemed to be hegemonic. I've softened my stance since then: as the right has emerged as the greater threat, liberals offer a respectable stance and critique. Related:

  • Richard Ebeling: For a New Liberalism (paperback, 2019, American Institute for Economic Research).
  • Robert Kuttner: The Stakes: 2020 and the Survival of American Democracy (2019, WW Norton).
  • Deirdre Nansen McCloskey: Why Liberalism Works: How True Liberal Values Produce a Freer, More Equal, Prosperous World for All (2019, Yale University Press.
  • James Traub: What Was Liberalism? The Past, Present, and Promise of a Noble Idea (2019, Basic Books).

Stanley B Greenberg: RIP GOP: How the New America Is Dooming the Republicans (2019, Thomas Dunne Books): Pollster, worked for Clinton and Obama, seems like he's been peddling rosy futures to mainstream liberals for more than two decades now: Middle Class Dreams: Building the New Majority (1995, Crown); The New Majority: Toward a Popular Progressive Politics (ed. with Theda Skocpol, 1997, Yale University Press); The Two Americas: Our Current Political Deadlock and How to Break It (2004, Thomas Dunne Books); It's the Middle Class Stupid! (with James Carville, listed first, and probably to blame for the title, not least the missing comma; 2012, Blue Rider Press); America Ascendant: A Revolutionary Nation's Path to Addressing Its Deepest Problems and Leading the 21st Century (2015, Thomas Dunne Books). This one seems more plausible, as it shifts the focus to Republicans with their failing programs and declining demographics.

Victor Davis Hanson: The Case for Trump (2019, Basic Books): The author is supposedly expert on ancient Greek military history, but he's been such a shameless right-wing hack for so long his credentials don't carry much weight any more -- other than perhaps to make him the natural leader of the parade of hacks and hysterics with recent books defending their Fearless Leader, campaigning for him, and (most often) slandering his "enemies":

  • Conrad Black: Donald J Trump: A President Like No Other (2018, Regnery).
  • Don Bongino: Exonerated: The Failed Takedown of President Donald Trump by the Swamp (2019, Post Hill Press).
  • L Brent Bozell III/Tim Graham: Unmasked: Big Media's War Against Trump (2019, Humanix Books).
  • Tucker Carlson: Ship of Fools: How a Selfish Ruling Class Is Bringing America to the Brink of Revolution (2018, Free Press).
  • Jason Chaffetz: Power Grab: The Liberal Scheme to Undermine Trump, the GOP, and Our Republic (2019, Broadside Books).
  • Jerome R Corsi: Killing the Deep State: The Fight to Save President Trump (2018, Humanix Books).
  • Alan Dershowitz: The Case Against Impeaching Trump (2018, Hot Books).
  • John L Fraser: The Truth Behind Trump Derangement Syndrome: "There Is More Than Meets the Eye" (paperback, 2018, JF).
  • Newt Gingrich: Understanding Trump (2017, Center Street).
  • Newt Gingrich: Trump's America: The Truth About Our Nation's Great Comeback (2018, Center Street).
  • Newt Gingrich: Trump vs China: Facing America's Greatest Threat (2019, Center Street).
  • Sebastian Gorka: Why We Fight: Defeating America's Enemies -- With No Apologies (2018, Regnery).
  • Sebastian Gorka: The War for America's Soul: Donald Trump, the Left's Assault on America, and How We Take Back Our Country (2019, Regnery).
  • Charles Hurt: Still Winning: Why America Went All In on Donald Trump -- And Why We Must Do It Again (2019, Center Street).
  • Gregg Jarrett: The Russia Hoax: The Illicit Scheme to Clear Hillary Clinton and Frame Donald Trump (2018; paperback, 2019, Broadside Books).
  • Gregg Jarrett: Witch Hunt: The Story of the Greatest Mass Delusion in American Political History (2019, Broadside Books).
  • Corey R Lewandowski/David N Bossie: Trump's Enemies: How the Deep State Is Undermining the Presidency (2018, Center Street).
  • Lily Manchubel: Too Far Left: An Eroding United States Democratic Republic: Anecdotal Observations of President Obama's Administration Left Leaning Cultural Shift, Poor Foreign and Domestic Government Policies; Versus That of Trump's More Right of Center Programs (paperback, 2019, Lulu Publishing Services): Deserves some sort of award for cutest fascist title.
  • Jeffrey Lord: Swamp Wars: Donald Trump and the New American Populism vs. the Old Order (2019, Bombardier Books).
  • Matt Margolis: Trumping Obama: How President Trump Saved Us From Barack Obama's Legacy (paperback, 2019, Bombardier Books).
  • Andrew C McCarthy: Ball of Collusion: The Plot to Rig an Election and Destroy a Presidency (2019, Encounter Books).
  • Bill O'Reilly: The United States of Trump: How the President Really Sees America (2019, Henry Holt).
  • Jeanine Pirro: Liars, Leakers, and Liberals: The Case Against the Anti-Trump Conspiracy (2018, Center Street).
  • Jeanine Pirro: Radicals, Resistance, and Revenge: The Left's Plot to Remake America (2019, Center Street).
  • Allen Salkin/Aaron Short: The Method to the Madness: Donald Trump's Ascent as Told by Those Who Were Hired, Fired, Inspired -- and Inaugurated (2019, All Points).
  • Michael Savage: Trump's War: His Battle for America (2017, Center Street).
  • Roger Stone: The Myth of Russian Collusion: The Inside Story of How Donald Trump Really Won (paperback, 2019, Skyhorse).
  • Kimberley Strassel: Resistance (At All Costs): How Trump Haters Are Breaking America (2019, Twelve).
  • Donald Trump Jr: Triggered: How the Left Thrives on Hate and Wants to Silence Us (2019, Center Street).

Reed Hundt: A Crisis Wasted: Barack Obama's Defining Decisions (2019, Rosetta Books): Inside adviser to Clinton (via Gore) in the 1990s, and to Obama from campaign to transition, recounts the personnel and policy decisions made by Obama during his transition and first few months which sharply limited the set of options that could be entertained to halt the collapse of the financial sector and to rebuild an economy that had been decimated by banking risks. One thing that was especially shocking was how little consideration was given to anyone other than Tim Geithner and Larry Summers for roles which ultimately prevented Obama from doing anything but protect the bankers who caused the recession. Hundt's own pet project during this period was setting up a program for infrastructure development, but it was killed by Summers on the assumption that the recession would be so short-lived that only short-term spending was needed. Other memoirs and assessments of the Obama years (skipping the most obvious right-wing rants):

  • Brian Abrams: Obama: An Oral History (2018, Little A).
  • Jonathan Chait: Audacity: How Barack Obama Defied His Critics and Created a Legacy That Will Prevail (2017, Custom House).
  • Pat Cunnane: West Winging It: An Un-presidential Memoir (paperback, 2018, Gallery Books).
  • Michael D'Antonio: A Consequential President: The Legacy of Barack Obama (2017, Thomas Dunne Books).
  • Andra Gillespie: Race and the Obama Administration: Substance, Symbols, and Hope (2019, Manchester University Press).
  • Mark Greenberg: Obama: The Historic Presidency of Barack Obama: 2,920 Days (2017, Sterling): Photo blog.
  • Valerie Jarrett: Finding My Voice: My Journey to the West Wing and the Path Forward (2019, Viking).
  • David Litt: Thanks, Obama: My Hopey, Changey White House Years (2017; paperback, 2018, Ecco).
  • Alyssa Mastromonaco: Who Thought This Was a Good Idea? And Other Questions You Should Have Answers to When You Work in the White House (2017; paperback, 2018, Twelve).
  • Gautam Raghavan, ed: West Wingers: Stories From the Dream Chasers, Change Makers, and Hope Creators Inside the Obama White House (paperback, 2018, Penguin Books).
  • Ben Rhodes: The World as It Is: A Memoir of the Obama White House (2018; paperback, 2019, Random House).
  • Pete Souza: Shade: A Tale of Two Presidents (2018, Little Brown).
  • Beck Dorey Stein: From the Corner of the oval: A Memoir (2018, Spiegel & Grau).
  • Julian Zelizer, ed: The Presidency of Barack Obama: A First Historical Assessment (paperback, 2018, Princeton University Press). Previously edited The Presidency of George W Bush: A First Historical Assessment (paperback, 2010, Princeton University Press).

Nancy Isenberg/Andrew Burstein: The Problem of Democracy: The Presidents Adams Confront the Cult of Personality (2019, Viking): A dual biography of father and son, the second and sixth presidents of the US, each limited to a single, controversial term as they were the exceptions to the Virginia planters who dominated the early democracy, a forum they worked in if never totally approved of. Not sure what the "cult of personality" was -- Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Andrew Jackson are mentioned, and they no doubt qualify. Isenberg previuosly wrote White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America. Burstein has written books on Jefferson, Madison, Jackson, Lincoln, and Washington Irving. His most intriguing title was Democracy's Muse: How Thomas Jefferson Became an FDR Liberal, a Reagan Republican, and a Tea Party Fanatic, All the While Being Dead (2015; paperback, 2017, University of Virginia Press).

Stuart Jeffries: Grand Hotel Abyss: The Lives of the Frankfurt School (2016, Verso): A group biography of the Frankfurt School, an important intersection of German Marxist thinkers who came together around 1923, and remained outside of (and often opposed to) the Soviet circle, ultimately having great influence in the development of the New Left in 1960s Europe and America. The standard book on the subject is Martin Jay: The Dialectical Imagination: A History of the Frankfurt School and the Institute for Social Research 1923-1950 (1973), which appeared when I was deeply immersed in these thinkers. Related:

  • Perry Anderson: The Antinomies of Antonio Gramsci (2017, Verso).
  • Deborah Cook: Adorno, Foucault, and the Critique of the West (paperback, 2018, Verso).
  • Howard Eiland/Michael W Jennings: Walter Benjamin: A Critical Life (2014; paperback, 2016, Belknap Press).
  • Peter E Gordon: Adorno and Existence (2016, Harvard University Press).
  • Martin Jay: Reason After Its Eclipse: On Late Critical Theory (paperback, 2017, University of Wisconsin Press).
  • Stefan Müller-Doohm: Adorno: A Biography (2004; paperback, 2009, Polity).
  • Stefan Müller-Doohm: Habermas: A Biography (2016, Polity).
  • Eric Oberle: Theodor Adoro and the Century of Negative Identity (paperback, 2018, Stanford University Press).

Eric Kaufmann: Whiteshift: Populism, Immigration, and the Future of White Majorities (2019, Harry N Abrams): Tempted to file this in the long list of books about how threatened white identity is shaping American and European politics, but this is a much bigger (624 pp), broader, deeper, and presumably more nuanced undertaking. Still, the very subject lies somewhere between unsavory and offensive. The basic truth is that when Europe started its project to conquer and colonize the world, it became inevitable that the conquered peoples would seep back into Europe and eventually change it: domination never lasts.

Naomi Klein: On Fire: The (Burning) Case for a Green New Deal (2019, Simon & Schuster): Bestselling Canadian whose critique of capitalism started with globalization -- No Logo: Taking Aim at the Brand Bullies (2000) -- and evolved as the neoliberal market engulfed politics -- The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism (2007) -- and the environment -- This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate (2014). Her vision of the Green New Deal is way to fight back, but beneath it all is an ever-sharpening critique of capitalism.

  • Kate Aronoff/Alyssa Battistoni/Daniel Aldana Cohen/Thea Riofrancos: A Planet to Win: Why We Need a Green New Deal (paperback, 2019, Verso Books): Foreword by Naomi Klein.
  • Larry Jordan: The Green New Deal: Why We Need It and Can't Live Without It -- and No, It's Not Socialism! (paperback, 2019, Page Turner Books).
  • Ann Pettifor: The Case for the Green New Deal (2019, Verso Books). Previously wrote: The Production of Money: How to Break the Bankers (2017; paperback, 2018, Verso Books).
  • Jeremy Rifkin: The Green New Deal: Why the Fossil Fuel Civilization Will Collapse by 2028, and the Bold Economic Plan to Save Life on Earth (2019, St Martin's Press).

Nicholas Lemann: Transaction Man: The Rise of the Deal and the Decline of the American Dream (2019, Farrar Straus and Giroux): Profiles of "three remarkable individuals who epitomized and helped create their eras": Adolf Berle (of FDR's "brain trust"), Michael Jensen (of Harvard Business School), and Reid Hoffman (a Silicon Valley venture capitalist). Presumably the first two correspond to the Roosevelt and Reagan eras. Harder to figure where that third avatar is dragging us, but as the title suggests, the author is looking not at where we want to go, but where how the era's great profiteers intend to con us.

Christopher Leonard: Kochland: The Secret History of Koch Industries and Corporate Power in America (2019, Simon & Schuster): Focuses more on the business behind the political forces that Jane Mayer wrote about in Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right (2016).

Jill Lepore: This America: The Case for the Nation (2019, Liveright): A short (160 pp) postscript, I would guess, to last year's massive These Truths: A History of the United States, described as an "urgent manifesto on the dilemma of nationalism and the erosion of liberalism in the twenty-first century." Sees American history as a struggle between liberal and illiberal nationalism, and tries to buck up the former at a time when many liberal-minded folks see nationalism as an atavistic regression. Lepore's earlier The Story of America: Essays on Origins (paperback, 2013, Princeton University Press) started with the same problems, exploring them in scattered essays, as historians are prone to do.

Rachel Maddow: Blowout: Corrupted Democracy, Rogue State Russia, and the Richest, Most Destructive Industry on Earth (2019, Crown): The MSNBC pundit's obsession with Russia has been aired so thoroughly since the 2016 debacle that this book is likely to rise to the level of self-parody, but somewhere along the line Maddow discovered that Russia is a petro-state, and broadened her aim to include the international oil industry, finding particularly juicy stories in Oklahoma earthquakes.

Daniel Markovits: The Meritocracy Trap: How America's Foundational Myth Feeds Inequality, Dismantles the Middle Class, and Devours the Elite (2019, Penguin Press): I thought the best previous book on "meritocracy" was Chris Hayes' Twilight of the Elites: America After Meritocracy, which made it clear that "meritocracy" was little more than a deceptive argument for maintaining the class dominance of established elites. Markovits takes the further step of arguing that "meritocracy now ensnares event hose who manage to claw their way to the top, requiring rich adults to work with crushing intensity, exploiting their expensive educations in order to extract a return." Related:

  • James Bloodworth: The Myth of Meritocracy (2019, Biteback).
  • Lani Guinier: The Tyranny of Meritocracy: Democratizing Higher Education in America (2015; paperback, 2016, Beacon Press).
  • Nicholas Lemann: The Big Test: The Secret History of the American Meritocracy (1999; paperback, 2000, Farrar Straus and Giroux).
  • Jo Littler: Against Meritocracy: Culture, Power and Myths of Mobility (paperback, 2017, Routledge
  • Stephen J McNamee: The Meritocracy Myth (4th edition, paperback, 2018, RL).
  • Michael Schwalbe: Rigging the Game: How Inequality Is Reproduced in Everyday Life (paperback, 2014, Oxford University Press).

Branko Milanovic: Capitalism, Alone: The Future of the System That Rules the World (2019, Belknap Press): Economist, wrote Global Inequality: A New Approach for the Age of Globalization, Aims at a big picture, noting capitalism's considerable material benefits as well as its moral failings, trying to weigh such factors. Someone more optimistic might frame this as "post-capitalism," but he sees nothing beyond -- just a long struggle to keep from devouring ourselves.

Alexander Nazaryan: The Best People: Trump's Cabinet and the Siege on Washington (2019, Hachette Books): Attempts to look past Trump's personality and showmanship, but doesn't get deep enough to see the real effects of his administration. Rather, he offers us a rogues gallery of Trump's cabinet-level deputies, who more often than not turn out to reflect the vanity and avarice of their leader. Curiously, doesn't cover the whole cabinet, with scarcely any mentions at all of State, Defense, Justice, or Homeland Security. It might be interesting to contrast this with John Nichols' Horsemen of the Trumpocalypse: A Field Giude to the Most Dangerous People in America, written and rushed into print almost as soon as the initial cabinet picks were announced.

Martha C Nussbaum: The Monarchy of Fear: A Philosopher Looks at Our Political Crisis (2018, Simon & Schuster): Teaches philosophy in a law school, author of twenty-somebooks, won the 2016 Kyoto Prize ("the most presigious award available in fields not eligible for a Nobel" -- she accepted this the day after the Trump election, so it's a starting point), knows her Greeks and checks back with them regularly, also knows some psych and is not above folding in a little empirical research from the social sciences. Key concerns here are fear, disgust, and envy -- feelings which contribute to and exacerbate our struggles with everyday life, not least in politics.

Robert L O'Connell: Revolutionary: George Washington at War (2019, Random House): Looking for something to round out my evaluation of the USA's first president -- my gut tells me he presents a stark and illustrative counterpoint to the latest (or maybe last?) president -- I picked this up and found it fascinating. Far from hagiography, it presents us with a flesh-and-blood figure, molded by the events of war but always with a fine sense of political mission.

Daniel Okrent: The Guarded Gate: Bigotry, Eugenics and the Law That Kept Two Generations of Jews, Italians, and Other European Immigrants Out of America (2019, Scribner): Probably spent more time as an editor than anything else, first attracting notice for his baseball fandom, but lately has been writing substantial, sweeping books on history: Great Fortune: The Epic of Rockefeller Center (2003), Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition (2010), and now this book on the racist and xenophobic movement to pass the 1923 law that radically restricted immigration to the United States. As timely now as those working to resurrect that movement.

George Packer: Our Man: Richard Holbrooke and the End of the American Century (2019, Knopf): Major (608 pp) biography of the late diplomat, whose career started with the American War in Vietnam, and ended with his failure to make any headway as Obama's special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan. Along the way, he gained a modicum of fame for brokering the Dayton Accords which ended the war between Serbia and Bosnia. Reviewers have focused on how both author and subject supported the Bush War in Iraq despite knowing better -- for Holbrooke it was a calculated cost of his ambitions to become Secretary of State (had Hillary Clinton won in 2008; with Obama winning, she settled for that position, and wrangled Holbrooke the Afghanistan/Pakistan portfolio). I suppose it's naďveté that lets Packer think Holbrooke's a worthy subject for such a massive effort. In the end, though, Holbrooke is a prime example of the moral and political bankruptcy of "the American era." And Packer's too competent a journalist not to expose that, even if he doesn't want to admit it.

Raj Patel/Jason W Moore: A History of the World in Seven Cheap Things (2017; paperback, 2018, University of California Press): A sweeping critique of capitalism, the force that cheapens things, in this case: nature, money, work, care, food, energy, and lives. This may slight what strikes me as the main effect of cheapening, which is that it makes things more plentiful. Moore previously wrote Capitalism in the Web of Life (paperback, 2015, Verso), which treats capitalism as a "world-ecology," Patel previously wrote Stuffed and Sarved: The Hidden Battle for the World Food System (2008), and The Value of Nothing: How to Reshape Market Society and Redefine Democracy (2010).

James Poniewozik: Audience of One: Donald Trump, Television, and the Fracturing of America (2019, Liveright). TV critic for the New York Times, traces Trump's long history of promotion and exposure on the tube, alongside the evolution of television from three major networks to "today's zillion-channel, internet-atomized universe, which sliced and diced them into fractious, alienated subcultures." I've long suspected that too much TV isn't a good thing -- the classic treatment is Neal Postman's Amusing Ourselves to Death, which I've seen this likened to -- but fragmentation would seem to limit the appeal of someone like Trump. Indeed, it took no effort to ignore him until he ran for president, and the news masters found their love/hate obsession with him. So I suspect there are more levels to this than a mere TV critic can develop, although that may be a good place to start.

Corey Robin: The Enigma of Clarence Thomas (2019, Metropolitan Books): Author of The Reactionary Mind: Conservatism From Edmund Burke to Sarah Palin (or, as recently reprinted, to Donald Trump), takes a shot at reconciling contradictions in the far right Supreme Court Justice, from his early embrace of black nationalism to the extreme conservatism he is known for -- another species of "reactionary mind," determined more by what he reacts so virulently to more than anything he believes in.

Brian Rosenwald: Talk Radio's America: How an Industry Took Over a Political Party That Took Over the United States (2019, Harvard University Press): This goes back to 1988, when "desperate for content to save AM radio, top media executives stumbled on a new format that would turn the political world upside down." They may have only been seeking profits, but rage and reaction was quickly recognized as effective conservative propaganda, an easy way to move a mass of voters to support the right-wing agenda. After the Republican debacle in 2008, the dynamic changed, as mass rage wound up leading the politicians, and in Donald Trump ("the kind of pugnacious candidate they had been demanding for decades") they put their own chump in charge.

Bernie Sanders: Where We Go From Here: Two Years in the Resistance (2018, Thomas Dunne Books): These days most major election campaigns kick off with a book to introduce the candidate and set the tone for the campaign. But in 2016, Sanders waited until his campaign was over before releasing his, allowing him to open with a memoir, then tack a manifesto on at the end. He called it Our Revolution: A Future to Believe In, and it was pretty credible for the genre. This one is reportedly sketchier, but even if he's just recounting his reaction to events, he's likely to give you insights you won't pick up from the usual sources. Elsewhere in the 2020 campaign wave (some are a bit old, more are on the way; some are by non-candidates, but fit the mold; I've written about Elizabeth Warren's book previously):

  • Stacey Abrams: Minority Leader: How to Lead From the Outside and Make Real Change (2018, Henry Holt).
  • Michael Bennet: The Land of Flickering Lights: Restoring America in an Age of Broken Politics (2019, Atlantic Monthly Press).
  • Joe Biden: Promise Me, Dad: A Year of Hope, Hardship, and Purpose (2017, Flatiron).
  • Michael Bloomberg: Bloomberg by Bloomberg (2nd edition, 2019, Wiley).
  • Cory Booker: United: Thoughts on Finding Common Ground and Advancing the Common Good (2016; paperback, 2017, Ballantine Books).
  • Pete Buttigleg: Shortest Way Home: One Mayor's Challenge and a Model for America's Future (2019, Liveright).
  • Julian Castro: An Unlikely Journey: Waking Up From My American Dream (2018, Little Brown).
  • John K Delaney: The Right Answer: How We Can Unify Our Divided Nation (2019, Henry Holt).
  • Tulsi Gabbard: Is Today the Day? Not Another Political Memoir (2019, Twelve).
  • Kirsten Gillibrand: Off the Sidelines: Raise Your Voice, Change the World (2014; paperback, 2015, Ballantine Books).
  • Kamala Harris: The Truths We Hold: An American Journey (2019, Penguin Press).
  • John Hickenlooper: The Opposite of Woe: My Life in Beer and Politics (2016, Penguin Press).
  • Jay Inslee/Bracken Hendricks: Apollo's Fire: Igniting America's Clean Energy Economy (2007, Island Press): Pre-campaign book, establishes his bona fides to run on climate change issue.
  • Amy Klobuchar: The Senator Next Door: A Memoir From the Heartland (2015, Henry Holt; paperback, 2016, University of Minnesota Press).
  • Jeff Merkley: America Is Better Than This: Trump's War Against Immigrant Families (2019, Twelve).
  • Beto O'Rourke/Susie Byrd: Dealing Death and Drugs: The Big Business of Dope in the US and Mexico (paperback, 2011, Cinco Puntos Press): Old book, so not a campaign primer.
  • Tim Ryan: Healing America: How a Simple Practice Can Help Us Recapture the American Spirit (paperback, 2018, Hay House). Previously wrote A Mindful Nation (2012), and The Real Food Revolution (2014).
  • Howard Schultz: From the Ground Up: A Journey to Reimagine the Promise of America (2019, Random House).
  • Joe Sestak: Walking in Your Shoes to Restore the American Dream (paperback, 2015, Infinity).
  • Elizabeth Warren: This Fight Is Our Fight: The Battle to Save America's Middle Class (2017, Metropolitan Books).
  • Marianne Williamson: A Politics of Love: A Handbook for a New American Revolution (2019, HarperOne). Also note: Healing the Soul of America (20th anniversary edition, paperback, 2018, Simon & Schuster).
  • Andrew Yang: The War on Normal People: The Truth About America's Disappearing Jobs and Why Universal Basic Income Is Our Future (2018, Hachette Books).

Isabel Sawhill: The Forgotten Americans: An Economic Agenda for a Divided Nation (2018, Yale University Press); Economist at the "centrist" Brookings Institute, stresses the importance of "mainstream values, such as family, education, and work." Detractors decry her as left wing nut job . . . the logic of know it all 5th grader and the mind set of a soviet thug." Chapters include "Why Economic Growth Is Not Enough," "The Limits of Redistribution," "A GI Bill for America's Workers," "A Bigger Role for the Private Sector" and "Updating Social Insurance." That all seems pretty modest to me, but "conservatives" can't so much as acknowledge the problem without flying off half-cocked. Makes one wonder why bother to appeal to them anyway.

Tom Segev: A State at Any Cost: The Life of David Ben-Gurion (2019, Farrar Straus and Giroux): Big (816pp) biography of Israel's first Prime Minister, by one of Israel's most important historians. Few national leaders in our time have more completely defined their nations -- Attaturk comes to mind as the closest comparable figure, although Mao and Castro ruled longer and more forcefully. Even today, it's possible to map most currents in Israeli political life to one facet or another of Ben Gurion complex view of his mission. Other recent books relating to Israel:

  • Seth Anziska: Preventing Palestine: A Political History From Camp David to Oslo (2018, Princeton University Press).
  • Khaled Elgindy: Blind Spot: America and the Palestinians, From Balfour to Trump (2019, Brookings Institution Press).
  • Noura Erakat: Justice for Some: Law and the Question of Palestine (2019, Stanford University Press).
  • Michael R Fischbach: Black Power and Palestine: Transnational Countries of Color (2018, Stanford University Press).
  • Michael R Fischbach: The Movement and the Middle East: How the Arab-Israeli Conflict Divided the American Left (2019, paperback, Stanford University Press).
  • Matti Friedman: Spies of No Country: Secret Lives at the Birth of Israel (2019, Algonquin Books).
  • Micah Goodman: Catch-67: The Left, the Right, and the Legacy of the Six-Day War (2018, Yale University Press).
  • Daniel Gordis: We Stand Divided: The Rift Between American Jews and Israel (2019, Ecco Books).
  • Sara Yael Hirschhorn: City on a Hilltop: American Jews and the Israeli Settler Movement (2017, Harvard University Press).
  • Amy Kaplan: Our American Israel: The Story of an Entangled Alliance (2018, Harvard University Press).
  • Susie Linfield: The Lions' Den: Zionism and the Left From Hannah Arendt to Noam Chomsky (2019, Yale University Press).
  • Shaul Mitelpunkt: Israel in the American Mind: The Cultural Politics of US-Israeli Relations, 1958-1988 (2018, Cambridge University Press).
  • Ilan Pappe: The Biggest Prison on Earth: A History of the Occupied Territories (paperback, 2019, Oneworld).
  • Dennis Ross/David Makovsky: Be Strong and of Good Courage: How Israel's Most Important Leaders Shaped Its Destiny (2019, Public Affairs): Ben-Gurion, Begin, Rabin, Sharon ("a leader who tells the settlers to give up the dream").

JC Sharman: Empires of the Weak: The Real Story of European Expansion and the Creation of the New World Order (2019, Princeton University Press): They say "history is written by the victors," and for 500 years we've been reading about how Europe's maritime conquest of the world reflected superior technology (and, less fashionably these days, genes and religion). This thin (216 pp) book tries to flip that argument on its head, asserting that the conquest "is better explained by deference to strong Asian and African polities, disease in the Americas, and maritime supremacy earned by default because local land-oriented polities were largely indifferent to war and trade at sea." Some of these ideas resemble the ones Jared Diamond put forth in Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies (1997), but both underestimate the amount of greed, bad faith, and knavery involved. The pattern I see most clearly is that European contact always started a corrosion of traditional social, economic, and political ties well before Europeans were able to seize control.

Jake Sherman/Anna Palmer: The Hill to Die On: The Battle for Congress and the Future of Trump's America (2019, Crown): Congress beat reporters for Politico report on the two year stretch when Republicans controlled both the White House and both houses of Congress, rehashing the jockeying behind the "repeal and replace" of Obamacare, the massive corporate tax giveaway, the Brett Kavanaugh nomination, and the partial government shutdown.

Matt Taibbi: Hate Inc.: Why Today's Media Makes Us Despise One Another (2019, OR Books): Journalist, covers elections and other scandals for Rolling Stone, a path paved by Hunter Thompson, so he's all but expected to get a little gonzo. Outside the mainstream hive, he's written some of the sharpest analysis of the media's coverage of elections, starting with Spanking the Donkey: Dispatches From the Dumb Season (2005), but I thought his quickie book on 2016, Insane Clown Posse: Dispatches From the 2016 Circus failed to rise to the absurdity of events he was forced to cover. In some ways, this book looks like a do-over, but rather than stare straight into the sun, he's focusing on the mediaa, and how they got blinded not just by events but by their devil's bargain with the mega-corporations that employ them. Two appendices: "Why Rachel Maddow is on the Cover of This Book," and "An Interview with Noam Chomsky." I guess Sean Hannity's appearance on the cover (on the red side vs. Maddow on the blue) requires no further explanation. Taibbi has long had a habit of burnishing his independence by attacking both parties, or both right and left, even when there's no equivalence.

Astra Taylor: Democracy May Not Exist: But We'll Miss It When It's Gone (2019, Metropolitan Books): Ruminations on a much declaimed and frequently confused political principle, something we're taught to believe in, to pride ourselves in, yet not take too seriously, as it's been much abused by self-interested elites. That those abuses seem to increased, both in frequency and in crassness, in recent years is probably due to increasing inequality. Author also has a documentary film, What Is Democracy?, and another film on Marxian philosophe Slavoj Zizek.

Adam Tooze: Crashed: How a Decade of Financial Crises Changed the World (2018, Viking): Economic historian, has a couple of major works: Wages of Destruction: The Making and Breaking of the Nazi Economy (2007), and The Deluge: The Great War, America and the Remaking of the Global Order, 1916-1931 (2014). This sums up the decade following the 2008 crash. There have been a lot of books about the immediate causes of the crash.

David Wallace-Wells: The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming (2019, Tim Duggan Books): A general primer on global warming, albeit one that goes beyond presenting what we know to look at, and take seriously, the worst case scenarios scientists imagine -- hence the title -- without blunting the impact by parading the usual list of "what we can do about it" palliatives. Reviews tend toward hyperbole: "the most terrifying book I have ever read," and "the most important book I have ever read." May be a good lead in for yet another list of recent climate books (I started one earlier under Jeff Goodell but they do keep coming):

  • Mike Berners-Lee: There Is No Planet B: A Handbook for the Make or Break Years (paperback, 2019, Cambridge University Press).
  • Amitav Ghosh: The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable (paperback, 2017, University of Chicago Press).
  • Andreas Malm: Fossil Capital: The Rise of Steam Power and the Roots of Global Warming (paperback, 2016, Verso Books).
  • Greta Thunberg: No One Is Too Small to Make a Difference (paperback, 2019, Penguin Books).

Brenda Wineapple: The Impeachers: The Trial of Andrew Johnson and the Dream of a Just Nation (2019, Random House): This is probably number one on the short list of events that could have changed American history had it gone slightly differently. As it was, Andrew Johnson did much to weaken and undo plans to empower freed slaves and reconstruct the south more equitably. Those years he held power made it easier for white southerners to reclaim power and create a racist order that prevailed into the 1960s, with remnants still evident today. Wineapple previously wrote the broader period history, Ecstatic Nation: Confidence, Crisis, and Compromise, 1848-1877 (2013; paperback, 2014, Harper Perennial). More on impeachment history (expect more on impeachment news soon):

  • Frank O Bowman III: High Crimes and Misdemeanors: A History of Impeachment for the Age of Trump (2019, Cambridge University Press).


Other recent books noted with little or no comment:

HW Brands: Heirs of the Founders: Henry Clay, John Calhoun and Daniel Webster, the Second Generation of American Giants (2018, Doubleday; paperback, 2019, Anchor Books).

Bill Bryson: The Body: A Guide for Occupants (2019, Doubleday).

Gail Collins: No Stopping Us Now: The Adventures of Older Women in American History (2019, Little Brown).

Jay Cost: The Price of Greatness: Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and the Creation of American Oligarchy (2018, Basic Books).

Kathleen Day: Broken Bargain: Bankers, Bailouts, and the Struggle to Tame Wall Street (2019, Yale University Press).

Larry Diamond: Ill Winds: Saving Democracy From Russian Rage, Chinese Ambition, and American Complacency (2019, Penguin Press).

Robin DiAngelo: White Fragility: Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism (paperback, 2018, Beacon Press).

Ronan Farrow: Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies, and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators (2019, Little Brown).

Silvia Federici: Re-enchanting the World: Feminism and the Politics of the Commons (paperback, 2018, PM Press).

Aaron Glantz: Homewreckers: How a Gang of Wall Street Kingpins, Hedge Fund Magnates, Crooked Banks, and Vulture Capitalists Suckered Millions Out of Their Homes and Demolished the American Dream (2019, Custom House).

Garrett M Graff: The Only Plane in the Sky: An Oral History of 9/11 (2019, Avid Reader Press/Simon & Schuster).

Gerald Horne: The Apocalypse of Settler Colonialism: The Roots of Slavery, White Supremacy, and Capitalism in Seventeenth-Century North America and the Caribbean (paperback, 2018, Monthly Review Press).

Tom LoBianco: Piety & Power: Mike Pence and the Taking of the White House (2019, Dey Street Books).

George Monbiot: Out of the Wreckage: A New Politics for an Age of Crisis (paperback, 2018, Verso Books).

Philip Mudd: Black Site: The CIA in the Post-9/11 World (2019, Liveright).

Margaret O'Mara: The Code: Silicon Valley and the Remaking of America (2019, Penguin Press).

Samantha Power: The Education of an Idealist: A Memoir (2019, Dey Street Books).

Susan Rice: Tough Love: My Story of the Things Worth Fighting For (2019, Simon & Schuster).

Christopher Ryan: Civilized to Death: The Price of Progress (2019, Avid Reader Press/Simon & Schuster).

Tatiana Schlossberg: Inconspicuous Consumption: The Environmental Impact You Don't Know You Have (2019, Grand Central Publishing).

Rebecca Solnit: Whose Story Is This? Old Conflicts, New Chapters (paperback, 2019, Haymarket Books).

The Washington Post: The Mueller Report (paperback, 2019, Scribner).

Gary Younge: Another Day in the Death of America: A Chronicle of Ten Short Lives (2016; paperback, 2018, Bold Type Books).

Monday, October 28, 2019

Music Week

Expanded blog post, October archive.

Music: current count 32276 [32248] rated (+28), 224 [224] unrated (+0).

Birthday last week, so I lost a day to cooking, most of another to shopping and prep. I usually like to do something new and extraordinary, but had a terrible time settling on a theme and menu this year. Finally, the final decision was made by Laura, in favor of an idea Max Stewart floated: fire up the grill and made burgers. That seemed pretty ordinary to me, but in fact I can't recall ever grilling hamburgers (I've grilled or smoked pretty much everything else). Turned out to be a pretty good idea. I picked up a new cookbook (The Ultimate Burger), and came up with three variations: teriyaki pork burgers with grilled pineapple, salmon burgers with tomato chutney, and good old bacon cheeseburgers. Even took a shot at making some potato buns (although I bought more for backup, mostly brioche and pretzel buns).

For side dishes, I did baked beans, two potato salads, coleslaw, corn and tomato salad, and my standard cucumber-yogurt thing. And for dessert, I stuck with my original choice: Mom's coconut cake, served with vanilla ice cream. Had nine people, and everyone seemed pleased.

October archive (see link above) is wrapped up and indexed. Not much to say about this week's haul, except perhaps that The Daisy Age was the surprise A+ in Robert Christgau's first new Consumer Guide under his And It Don't Stop subscription newsletter, and the only new CD I've bought in 3-4 months (not that I couldn't have assembled the play list from Napster). Back when I was writing Recycled Goods, I tried to get on Ace Records' promo list, but never got so much as a reply. So I was pretty jealous when Bob told me a few years back that they had started sending him records. This looks like the tenth of their records he's reviewed since 2013. (If anyone cares, I'd review every damn one.)

Some of the old music this week were rap records from that vintage (1989-95). Also filled in some EST back catalogue, after reviewing their Live in Gothenburg as an A- last week (which makes it, in my humble estimation, their best record ever).

Best-reviewed albums from the week of 10-25 (according to my metacritic file (4+ counting my grades in brackets, but paren totals don't count my grades): Anna Meredith: FIBS (9); Rex Orange County: Pony (5); Neil Young & Crazy Horse: Colorado (5); Blaenavon: Everything That Makes You Happy (4); Cigarettes After Sex: Cry (4) [***]; Hana Vu: Nicole Kidman/Anne Hathaway (4). Also note: Kanye West: Jesus Is King (2).

Best-reviewed albums from 10-18: Floating Points: Crush (13); Foals: Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost (Part 2) (9); Caroline Polachek: Pang (9); Battles: Juice B Crypts (7); Clipping: There Existed an Addiction to Blood (7); Vagabon (7); Patrick Watson: Wave (5); Matana Roberts: Coin Coin Chapter Four: Memphis (3) [***].

New records I want to track down: The Bad Plus: Activate Infinity; Lakou Mizik: HaitiaNola; Nellie McKay: Bagatelles; Van Morrison: Three Chords & the Truth.

Also out since last week, previously graded: Randy Brecker/Ada Rovatti: Brecker Plays Rovatti: Sacred Bond [**]; Jeff Denson/Romain Pilon/Brian Blade: Between Two Worlds [*]; Laszlo Gardony: La Marseillaise (Sunnyside) [**]; Carmen Sandim: Play Doh (Ropeadope) [*]; Leo Sherman: Tonewheel (Outside In Music) [*]; Esbjorn Svensson Trio: EST Live in Gothenburg (2001, ACT -2CD) [A-].


New records reviewed this week:

  • Big Thief: Two Hands (2019, 4AD): [r]: B+(**)
  • The Nat Birchall Quartet: The Storyteller: A Musical Tribute to Yusef Lateef (2019, Jazzman): [r]: B+(**)
  • Daniel Carter/Julian Priester/Adam Lane/Reggie Sylvester/David Haney: Live Constructions Volume 2 (2018 [2019], Slam): [r]: B+(*)
  • Daniel Carter/Stelios Milhas/Irma Nejando/Federico Ughi: Radical Invisibility (2018 [2019], 577): [bc]: B+(**)
  • Cigarettes After Sex: Cry (2019, Partisan): [r]: B+(***)
  • Harry Connick Jr.: True Love: A Celebration of Cole Porter (2019, Verve): [r]: B+(*)
  • Satoko Fujii/Joe Fonda: Four (2018 [2019], Long Song): [cd]: B+(***) [11-08]
  • Binker Golding: Abstractions of Reality Past and Incredible Feathers (2018 [2019], Gearbox): [cd]: A-
  • Kim Gordon: No Home Record (2019, Matador): [r]: B+(***)
  • Homeboy Sandman: Dusty (2019, Mello Music Group): [r]: B+(***)
  • Miles Okazaki: The Sky Below (2019, Pi): [cd]: B+(***)
  • Anne Phillips: Live at the Jazz Bakery (2019, Conawago): [cd]: B-
  • Matana Roberts: Coin Coin Chapter Four: Memphis (2019, Constellation): [r]: B+(***)
  • Rocket 808: Rocket 808 (2019, 12XU): [r]: B
  • Michael Jefry Stevens & the Mountain Chamber Jazz Ensemble: The Poet Is in the House (2019, ARC): [bc]: B
  • Devin Brahja Waldman: Brahja (2019, RR Gems): [cdr]: B+(***)

Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:

  • The Daisy Age (1989-94 [2019], Ace): [cd]: A
  • Saadet Türköz/Elliott Sharp: Kumuska (2007 [2019], Intakt): [r]: B+(*)

Old music:

  • Black Sheep: A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing (1991, Mercury): [r]: B+(**)
  • Brand Nubian: Foundation (1998, Arista): [r]: B+(***)
  • Fu-Schnickens: Greatest Hits (1992-95 [1995], Jive): [r]: B+(***)
  • Esbjörn Svensson Trio: Plays Monk (1996, Superstudio Gul): [r]: B+(**)
  • Esbjörn Svensson Trio: Winter in Venice (1997, Superstudio Gul; [1999], ACT): [r]: B+(*)
  • Esbjörn Svensson Trio [EST]: From Gagarin's Point of View (1999, ACT): [r]: B+(**)
  • Esbjörn Svensson Trio [EST]: Good Morning Susie Soho (2000, ACT): [r]: B+(***)
  • E.S.T.: Leucocyte (2007 [2008], ACT): [r]: B+(**)
  • E.S.T. [Esbjörn Svensson Trio]: 301 (2007 [2012], ACT): [r]: B+(***)


Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • Dave Douglas: Engage (Greenleaf Music) [11-08]
  • Nick Dunston: Atlantic Extraction (Out of Your Head) [11-01]
  • Johnny Griffin & Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis: Ow! Live at the Penthouse (1962, Reel to Reel) [12-06]
  • Remy Le Boeuf: Assembly of Shadows (SoundSpore) [11-01]

Purchases:

  • The Daisy Age (1989-94, Ace)

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Weekend Roundup

Been distracted, so chalk this up as another week going through the motions, keeping open the option of looking back at this presidential term week-by-week as it unfolded. More time might have given me chance to group links on the same basic stories, as well as to build a bit more structure around everything. Started collecting on Saturday, after which the Baghdadi assassination story broke, John Conyers died, and Trump was greeted with boos and chants of "lock him up" at the World Series.


Some scattered links this week:

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Daily Log

Made birthday dinner. Had a horrible time trying to figure out what to do this year, then had a rough time trying to invite people. I've been wanting to make Mom's coconut cake, and that argued against most of the international cuisines I've explored in years past. Jerry came up with the idea of just grilling some hamburgers, and after I came up with a couple of alternatives, Laura voted for hamburgers. I looked around and picked up a copy of The Ultimate Burger, and there I found a few interesting new things to try, which I figured might fit in nicely with some old standby dishes. Final menu:

  • Grilled bacon burgers
  • Grilled teriyaki pork burgers: with grilled pineapple and onion.
  • Crispy salmon burgers with tomato chutney
  • Smoky grilled potato salad: with grilled onions and bacon.
  • Smoked salmon vinaigrette: Russian potato salad recipe, with olives, capers, and dill.
  • Buttermilk coleslaw
  • Fresh corn and tomato salad
  • Rebecca's baked beans: topped with bacon.
  • Mast Va Khiar: Persian yogurt-cucumber with mint, scallions, sultanas, and black walnuts.
  • Coconut cake: with vanilla ice cream.

I toyed with the idea of baking my own rolls, and I wound up trying to make a batch (8) of potato rolls. I screwed them up coming and going, but they weren't bad, and I used them with the salmon. But for backup, I bought two packages each of brioche buns and pretzel buns (8 of each). They were at least as good, and a lot more cost-effective. Also bought a package (4) of gluten-free (chia-rice) buns, which no one ate.

I bought two packages of Yoder thick bacon. Tried one batch of the cookbook recipe where you cover the bacon with water, then boil the water off and brown what's left. I can't say as it's a better method: definitely slower, may drain less fat off (you get less left over in pan).

Jerry ran the grill, and I was swamped inside, with various things running late. I had figured most of the hamburgers would be topped with blue cheese, but I also bought thick slices of colby, and that's what Jerry used. The pork burgers were to be topped with teriyaki sauce, but Jerry put the blue cheese on them. I tried reconstructing a pork burger according to recipe, and it was pretty good, but by then hardly anyone else was interested.

I forgot to serve the coleslaw. Wasn't missed, and frankly wasn't as good as the non-creamy slaw I've made before, but belonged with the dinner.

I undercooked the cake icing, so it thinned out a bit before serving (misremembered the temperature, so stopped the syrup at 232F, instead of 240F from past experiments). Cake was very moist. A guest brought a pan of brownies, so some guests opted for them.

Wound up with nine people after a string of last-minute invites all panned out (24 hours before it was looking like we'd just have 4). I got a little flustered in the endgame, but wasn't as worn out once it was served as I've been in recent years. Enjoyed the company.

Monday, October 21, 2019

Music Week

Expanded blog post, October archive (in progress).

Music: current count 32248 [32212] rated (+36), 224 [229] unrated (-5).

As of late Sunday. Monday's mail unpacked below but not counted above.

Last couple weeks I've barely been able to scratch out two A- records. In fact, only one of the last six weeks yielded more than three, but I'm up to a nearly unprecedented nine here (E.S.T. a late add). One reason is I did something different last week, in that I jotted down a list of seven "new records I most want to track down." I found all seven, and got four A- records there (Jaimie Branch, Chris Knight, L'Orange & Jeremiah Jae, Kelsey Waldon). Although I must admit that part of the reason I did that was that Knight and Waldon were riding multiple A/A- streaks, and L'Orange/Jae's previous also came in at A-. Nor was Branch much of a surprise. Had I looked further, I would also have flagged Crosscurrents Trio (Dave Holland has his own streak going), and maybe the two new Intakt releases.

Also got a couple pleasant surprises out of the promo queue. My other main source this week was Saving Country Music: I added their top-reviewed albums to my metacritic file, but the winners there were the expected ones from Knight and Waldon. Adds to this and my tracking file help keep me up to date. For instance, I can tell you the best-reviewed new records of the week (10-18): Battles: Juice B Crypts (6); Foals: Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost (Part 2) (6); Vagabon (6); Clipping: There Existed an Addiction to Blood (5); Floating Points: Crush (4); Caroline Polachek: Pang (4); Patrick Watson: Wave (4). Best-reviewed new records of the previous week (10-11): Big Thief: Two Hands (17); Kim Gordon: No Home Record (12); Elbow: Giants of All Sizes (9); Richard Dawson: 2020 (8).

New records I most want to track down: Homeboy Sandman: Dusty; Matana Roberts: Coin Coin Chapter Four: Memphis; Rocket 808.

Also out 10-18, listed below or previously graded: Gebhard Ullmann: MikroPULS [A-]; Michael Formanek: Even Better [***]; Petros Kampanis: Irrationalities [**]; Derel Monteith: Connemara [**]; Chris Speed: Respect for Your Toughness [**]; Chip Stephens/Stenn Wilson: Sadness & Soul [**]; John Yao: How We Do [**]; Rez Abbasi: A Throw of Dice by the Silent Ensemble [*]; Derel Monteith: Quantity of Life [*]; Carrie Wicks: Reverie [*]; Katerina Brown: Mirror [B]; Dan McCarthy: City Abstract [B].

Old records this week were mostly the result of collecting several recent decade-or-two best-of lists. I've started to copy these down, mostly to provide a checklist against my own listening. There weren't many titles I hadn't heard, but I had totally missed Chromatics and Joanna Newsom, so now I know something. You can find the lists with my grades here (original links in the files):

One more week left in October, promises to have more than the usual batch of distractions. Had a "furnace tuneup" last week, which left both the system and us pretty confused, so I need to call them back and get to the bottom of that. Weather itself has been up and down, enough so to remind me that as much as I hate the heat, the cold is actually more painful. Birthday coming up, so I'll take a day or two cooking something. I usually do a broad tasting menu from some exotic cuisine (started with Chinese, then Indian, then Turkish; finally got to French last year), but I'm feeling more like comfort food this year (or maybe I just really want to end it with Mom's coconut cake).

Last two big meals have been Hungarian, so I'm done with that for a while (although I still want to make the dumplings at some point, possibly the rabbit goulash and/or the venison meatballs, and for that matter the somloi trifle and/or the dobos torte -- the two insanely classic Hungarian desserts). Just not this week. Two more big projects are putting together a new computer, and doing a major cleanup/reorganization of the tools in the basement and garage.

Decided to buy the computer parts after my secondary machine temporarily crapped out a week ago. Eventually got it to boot, but it's been so slow I've dragged my feet something awful on website work. But rather than buy something cheap to replace the secondary machine, I figured I should jump whole hog into a new primary unit. Well, "half hog": went with the $200 AMD Ryzen 2700 CPU (8 cores, double the Passmark of my main machine), but much cheaper than the $565 Ryzen 3900 (twice again as fast); 64G of DDR 3000 SDRAM, instead of the 128G maximum; a 1TB M.2 slot SSD; on-board graphics (serious gamers could double the price of their computer here); a mid-range 750W power supply; and a relatively cheap box (because I still want a built-in DVD drive, which the fancy boxes no longer support). Where I did splurge was on a new 32-inch monitor UHD monitor. Should be relatively easy to put it together and load up Xubuntu. One resolution is to only do UTF-8 on the new box, so to get the extra speed, I'll have to convert the websites.

The basement/garage project will be a lot more work, and take a lot more out of my music time. I'm sick and tired of not being able to find tools I know I have. I expect to wind up with an inventory, in some kind of database or spreadsheet, with everything a bit neater. Perhaps success there will lead to a second project, to start to unburden the house of excess stuff, including a few books and CDs. At one point I thought of donating the latter to a library, and never went through with that (and feel less inspired every time they name another building after the Kochs). Open to ideas there.

Haven't done any significant work on my 2020 election book, but keep thinking about it. The book I'm currently reading on George Washington has some relevance, as he has one thing in common with Trump (extraordinary riches) but is otherwise Trump's polar opposite (well, aside from the race thing).


New records reviewed this week:

  • Yazz Ahmed: Polyhymnia (2016-19 [2019], Ropeadope): [r]: B+(**)
  • Michaela Anne: Desert Dove (2019, Yep Roc): [r]: B+(*)
  • Bonnie Bishop: The Walk (2019, Thirty Tigers): [r]: B+(**)
  • Jaimie Branch: Fly or Die II: Bird Dogs of Paradise (2018 [2019], International Anthem): [r]: A-
  • Chromatics: Closer to Grey (2019, Italians Do It Better): [r]: B
  • Crosscurrents Trio [Dave Holland/Zakir Hussain/Chris Potter]: Good Hope (2018 [2019], Edition): [r]: A-
  • Croy & the Boys: Howdy High-Rise (2019, Spaceflight): [r]: B+(**)
  • Michael Formanek Very Practical Trio/Tim Berne/Mary Halvorson: Even Better (2019, Intakt): [r]: B+(***)
  • Bill Frisell: Harmony (2019, Blue Note): [r]: B+(*)
  • Abdullah Ibrahim: Dream Time (2019, Enja): [r]: B+(**)
  • Gethen Jenkins: Western Gold (2019, 5 Music): [r]: B+(*)
  • Georgette Jones: Skin (2019, self-released): [r]: B+(**)
  • Roger Kellaway: The Many Open Minds of Roger Kellaway (2010 [2019], IPO): [cd]: A- [11-01]
  • Chris Knight: Almost Daylight (2019, Drifters Church): [r]: A-
  • L'Orange & Jeremiah Jae: Complicate Your Life With Violence (2019, Mello Music Group): [r]: A-
  • Doug MacDonald & the Tarmac Ensemble: Jazz Marathon 4: Live at Hangar 18 (2019, DMAC, 2CD): [cd]: B+(*)
  • Dan McCarthy: City Abstract (2019, Origin): [cd]: B
  • Mike & the Moonpies: Cheap Silver & Solid Country Gold (2019, Prairie Rose): [r]: B+(*)
  • Joshua Redman & Brooklyn Rider: Sun on Sand (2019, Nonesuch): [r]: B+(**)
  • Reut Regev R*Time: Keep Winning (2019, Enja): [r]: A-
  • Chris Speed Trio: Respect for Your Toughness (2018 [2019], Intakt): [r]: B+(***)
  • Chip Stephens/Stenn Wilson: Sadness & Soul (2018 [2019], Capri): [cd]: B+(**)
  • Gebhard Ullmann/Hans Lüdemann/Oliver Potratz/Eric Schaefer: MikroPULS (2017 [2019], Intuition): [cd]: A-
  • Kelsey Waldon: White Noise/White Lines (2019, Oh Boy): [r]: A-
  • Alice Wallace: Into the Blue (2019, Rebelle Road): [r]: B+(*)

Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:

  • Ernest Hood: Neighborhoods: Memories of Times Past (1975 [2019], Freedom to Spend): [r]: B
  • Esbjörn Svensson Trio: E.S.T. Live in Gothenburg (2001 [2019], ACT, 2CD): [cd]: A- [10-25]
  • Barney Wilen: Live in Tokyo '91 (1991 [2019], Elemental Music, 2CD): [r]: B+(***)

Old music:

  • Chromatics: Kill for Love (2012, Italians Do It Better): [sc]: B+(***)
  • Joanna Newsom: The Milk-Eyed Mender (2004, Drag City): [r]: B+(*)
  • Joanna Newsom: Ys (2006, Drag City): [r]: B
  • Joanna Newsom: Have One on Me (2010, Drag City, 2CD): [r]: B
  • Reut Regev: This Is R*Time (2008 [2009], Ropeadope): [r]: B+(**)


Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • Calabria Foti: Prelude to a Kiss (Moco) [11-01]
  • Jerome Jennings: Solidarity (Iola) [11-09]
  • Per Texas Johansson: Strĺk Pĺ Himlen Och Stora Hus (Moserobie)
  • Fredrik Ljungkvist Trio: Atlantis (Moserobie)

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Weekend Roundup

Half a week here, after my Midweek Roundup came out on Thursday. Still too exhausted to write an intro.


Some scattered links this week:

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Midweek Roundup

Sometime Wednesday afternoon it occurred to me that I might as well go ahead and round up the first rush of Democratic debate links for the Weekend Roundup. Then I wondered whether I could just dispatch them early, in a Midweek Roundup (something I've done a couple times, but not often). So here's what I rounded up by bedtime. Not many comments, other than to note that the "conventional wisdom" on Syria is not only worse than what Tulsi Gabbard has to say, it's worse than Donald Trump (see, e.g., his dismissal of Lindsey Graham, below).


Some scattered links this week:

Monday, October 14, 2019

Music Week

Expanded blog post, October archive (in progress).

Music: current count 32212 [32183] rated (+29), 229 [229] unrated (+0).

Cutoff was Sunday evening, after posting Weekend Roundup. Didn't have all of the unpacking done, so unrated count is a bit low. The two A- records came early in the week. Both are available on Bandcamp: Drumming Cellist, Abdallah Ag Oumbadougou. There's a good chance that The Rough Guide to the Roots of Country Music might have hit A- on a second or third play, but not having the booklet, having to spend close to an hour checking dates, and the suspicion that I've heard everything there elsewhere didn't dispose me to be especially generous.

I saw a little bit (maybe 10%) of Ken Burns' Country Music PBS series. Not much there I didn't already know, but thought what I saw was pretty useful -- certainly didn't strike me as distorted and deceptive, like his Jazz series. As far as I can tell, the only product tie-ins are called The Soundtrack, available in both a 2-CD edition and a 5-CD box. I don't like streaming boxes -- actually, I don't have the patience, in large part because it's hard to break them up in to listenable chunks, and there's no booklet to help you keep score -- so I probably won't bother, but the tracklists look impeccable. Probably not as good as Classic Country Music: A Smithsonian Collection (also 5-CD), but better than Columbia Country Classics (from 1990, also 5-CD). Virtually no overlap with Rough Guide, for reasons that hardly need explication.

I read about the Exbats in last week's Robert Christgau's Consumer Guide. If the link doesn't seem to work, maybe you should subscribe? I was pleased to find my previous A- picks for Chance the Rapper and Tyler Childers as good or better. Also that he found more than I did in Black Midi, Chuck Cleaver, Rapsody, and Sleater-Kinney. Some folks have asked about XgauSez. It's on a new schedule, fourth Wednesday of each month, and subscribers will get it delivered to their mailboxes.

Continuing to plug things into my tracking and metacritic files, which is helping me keep up to date. For instance, I can tell you the best-reviewed new records of the week (10-11): Big Thief: Two Hands (15); Kim Gordon: No Home Record (12); Elbow: Giants of All Sizes (8). Best-reviewed new records of the previous week (10-04): Angel Olsen: All Mirrors (24) [*]; Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds: Ghosteen (22); Danny Brown: Uknowhatimsayinż (16) [***]; Wilco: Ode to Joy (10); DIIV: Deceiver (9). New records I most want to track down: Yazz Ahmed: Polyhymnia; Jaimie Branch: Fly or Die II: Bird Dogs of Paradise; Bill Frisell: Harmony; Abdullah Ibrahim: Dream Time; Chris Knight: Almost Daylight; L'Orange & Jeremiah Jae: Complicate Your Life With Violence; Kelsey Waldon: White Noise/White Lines.


New records reviewed this week:

  • Rez Abbasi: A Throw of Dice by the Silent Ensemble (2017 [2019], Whirlwind): [cd]: B+(*) [10-19]
  • Mats Ĺleklint/Per-Ĺke Holmlander/Paal Nilssen-Love: Fish & Steel (2018 [2019], PNL): [bc]: B+(***)
  • Simone Baron & Arco Belo: The Space Between Disguises (2019, GenreFluid): [cd]: B- [11-08]
  • Katerina Brown: Mirror (2019, Mellowtone Music): [cd]: B [10-18]
  • Cashmere Cat: Princess Catgirl (2019, Mad Love/Interscope, EP): [r]: B+(*)
  • Drumming Cellist [Kristijan Krajncan]: Abraxas (2019, Sazas): [cd]: A-
  • David Finck: Bassically Jazz (2019, Burton Avenue Music): [r]: B+(*)
  • Ras Kass: Soul on Ice 2 (2019, Mello Music Group): [r]: B+(***)
  • Krokofant: Q (2019, Rune Grammofon): [r]: B
  • Remy Le Boeuf: Light as a Word (2019, Outside In Music): [cdr]: B
  • Little Brother: May the Lord Watch (2019, Imagine Nation Music/For Members Only/Empire): [r]: B+(**)
  • Joe McPhee/Paal Nilssen-Love: Song for the Big Chief (2017 [2019], PNL): [bc]: B+(**)
  • Bernie Mora & Tangent: No Agenda (2019, Rhombus): [cd]: C+
  • Poncho Sanchez: Trane's Delight (2019, Concord Picante): [r]: B
  • Louis Sclavis: Characters on a Wall (2018 [2019], ECM): [r]: B+(*)
  • Mike Stern-Jeff Lorber Fusion: Eleven (2019, Concord): [r]: C+
  • Tinariwen: Amadjar (2019, Anti-): [r]: B+(**)
  • Kiki Valera: Vivencias En Clave Cubana (2018 [2019], Origin): [cd]: B+(***) [10-16]
  • Rodney Whitaker: All Too Soon: The Music of Duke Ellington (2017 [2019], Origin): [cd]: B+(***) [10-16]
  • Barrence Whitfield Soul Savage Arkestra: Songs From the Sun Ra Cosmos (2019, Modern Harmonic): [r]: B+(**)
  • Carrie Wicks: Reverie (2019, OA2): [cd]: B+(*) [10-16]
  • Young M.A: Herstory in the Making (2019, M.A Music/3D): [r]: B+(*)

Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:

  • The Exbats: E Is 4 Exbats (2016-18 [2019], Burger): [r]: B+(***)
  • Abdallah Ag Oumbadougou: Anou Malane (1994 [2019], Sahel Sounds): [r]: A-
  • The Rough Guide to the Roots of Country Music: Reborn and Remastered (1926-33 [2019], World Music Network): [r]: B+(***)
  • Cecil Taylor: Mysteries: Indent: Antioch College/Yellow Springs, Ohio/March 11, 1973 (1973 [2018], Black Sun): [r]: B+(***)
  • Cecil Taylor: Mysteries: Untitled (1961-76 [2019], Black Sun): [r]: B+(**)

Old music:

  • The Exbats: A Guide to the Health Issues Affecting Rescue Hens (2016, Burger): [r]: B+(**)
  • The Exbats: I've Got the Hots for Charlie Watts (2018, Burger): [r]: B+(***)
  • Rodney Whitaker: Ballads and Blues: The Brooklyn Sessions (1998, Criss Cross): [r]: B+(**)
  • Barrence Whitfield & the Savages: Soul Flowers of Titan (2018, Bloodshot): [r]: B+(***)


Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • Binker Golding: Abstractions of Reality Past and Incredible Feathers (Gearbox)
  • Dan McCarthy: City Abstract (Origin) [10-16]
  • Mute: Mute (Fresh Sound New Talent) [12-13]
  • One O'Clock Lab Band: Lab 2019 (UNT) [11-22]
  • Kiki Valera: Vivencias En Clave Cubana (Origin) [10-16]
  • Rodney Whitaker: All Too Soon: The Music of Duke Ellington (Origin) [10-16]
  • Carrie Wicks: Reverie (OA2) [10-16]

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Weekend Roundup

Trump has gotten a lot of flack this week for his decision allowing Turkey to invade Syria. Turkey's attack is directed not at the Syrian government or ISIS but at the Kurdish militias in norther Syria, which Turkish strong-man Erdogan regards as a potential security threat, as presumingly giving aid and comfort to Turkey's own Kurdish minority. The Kurdish militias had not only opposed the Syrian government, which hardly anyone in America has a kind word for, but also operated as allies or proxies in America's war against ISIS. Hence, the complaints you hear most often are that Trump has abandoned a trusted US ally, and that the invasion is likely to head to a humanitarian disaster -- the emphasis shifting from neocons to their liberal enablers. The only support Trump has found has come from paleocons like Rand Paul who want the US to draw back from foreign wars, but don't much care if the rest of the world destroys itself.

One problem is that Trump (or for that matter Obama) has never had a coherent strategy on Syria, or for that matter anywhere else in the Middle East. A reasonable goal would be to maintain peace among stable governments, biased where possible toward broad-based prosperity with power sharing and respect for human rights. Obama might have agreed with that line at the start of Arab Spring, but he soon found that ran against the main drivers of American Middle East policy: Israel's war stance, the Arabian oil oligarchies, Iranian exiles, arms merchants, and scattered pockets of Christians (except in Palestine) -- forces that had never given more than occasional lip-service to democracy and human rights, and were flat-out opposed to any whiff of socialism.

Obama was able to help nudge Mubarak aside in Egypt, but when the Egyptians elected the wrong leaders, he had second thoughts, and didn't object to the military restoring a friendly dictatorship. Obama had no such influence in Libya and Syria, so when their leaders violently put demonstrations down, some Americans saw an opportunity to overthrow unfriendly regimes through armed conflict. It is fair to say that Obama was ambivalent about this, but he wound up overseeing a bombing campaign that killed Qaddafi in Libya, and he provided less overt support to some of the Syrian opposition forces, and this led to many other parties intervening in Syria, with different and often conflicting agendas.

It's worth stressing that nothing the US has attempted in the Middle East has worked, even within the limited and often incoherent goals that have supposedly guided American policy, let alone advancing the more laudable goals of peace and broad-based prosperity. Iraq and Afghanistan have shown that the US is incapable of standing up popular government after invasion and civil war. Libya suggests that ignoring a broken country doesn't work any better. But Syria is turning out to be an even more complete disaster, as the ancien regime remains as the only viable government. Assad owes his survival to Russia's staunch support, but also to the US (and the Kurds), who defeated his most potent opposition: ISIS.

What needs to be done now is to implement a cease fire, to halt all foreign efforts to provide military support for anti-Assad forces, to reassert the Assad government over all of Syria, to convince Assad not to take reprisals against disarmed opponents, and to start rebuilding and repatriating exiles. Trump's greenlighting of the Turkish invasion does none of this, and makes any progress that much harder -- not that there is any reason to think that Trump has the skills and temperament to negotiate an end to the conflict, even without this blunder.

The only American politician who begins to have the skills to deal with problems like Syria is Bernie Sanders, because he is the only one to understand that America's interests -- peace, prosperity, cooperation everywhere -- are best served when nations everywhere choose governments that serve the best interests of all of their own peoples (socialism). Everyone else is more/less stuck in ruts which insist on projecting the so-called American values of crony capitalism and militarism, the goal to make the world subservient to the interests of neoliberal capital. In this regard, Trump differs from the pack only in his reluctance to dress up greedy opportunism with high-minded aspirations (e.g., Bush's feminist program for Afghanistan). Trump's freedom from cant could be refreshing, but like all of his exercises in political incorrectness, it mostly serves to reveal what a callous and careless creature he is.

Short of Sanders, it might be best to concede that America is not the solution to the world's woes, that indeed it is a major problem, so much so that in many cases the most helpful thing we could do is to withdraw, including support for other countries' interventions. Syria is an obvious good place to start. On the other hand, replacing American arms and aims with Turkish ones won't help anyone (not even the Turks).

PS: After writing the above, Trump ordered the last US troops out of Syria. That in itself is good news, but everything else is spiraling rapidly out of control. Meanwhile, Syrian Kurds are looking for new allies, and finding Assad (see Jason Ditz: Syrian Kurds, Damascus reach deal in Russia-backed talks).

Some scattered links on this (some of which are just examples of what I've been complaining about):


Some scattered links this week:

Tuesday, October 08, 2019

Daily Log

Update: Actual configuration, purchased 10/15:

  • AMD Ryzen 7 2700X 8-Core 3.7GHz Socket AM4 PM 16976: [$199.99]
  • ASRock X570 Steel Legend AM4 AMD X570 Motherboard Combo w/CPU: $379.98
  • G.SKILL TridentZ 64GB (4x16GB) DDR4 3000: $289.99
  • Intel 660p Series M.2 2280 1TB PCIe NVMe 3.0 x4 3D2, QLC SSD: $99.99
  • Corsair RM750 750W ATX12V v2.52/EPS12V v2.92 Full Modular Power Supply: $114.99
  • Lite-On DVD Burner Black SATA iHAS124-14 OEM: $16.99+$1.99

Thought I'd do a little new computer shopping (Newegg). Possible configuration:

  • CPU: Compare to 2012: AMD Fx-8150 PM 8250 $199.99; top passmark now: 32,946; best sub-$200: 16,976 (AMD Ryzen 7 2700X):
    • AMD Ryzen 9 3900X 12-Core 3.8GHz Socket AM4 PM 31847: $564.99
    • AMD Ryzen 7 3700X 8-Core 3.6GHz Socket AM4 PM 23883: $329.99
    • [*] AMD Ryzen 7 2700X 8-Core 3.7GHz Socket AM4 PM 16976: $199.99
    • AMD Ryzen 7 2700 8-Core 3.2GHz Socket AM4 PM 15080: $178.99
    • AMD Ryzen 7 1700X 8-Core 3.4GHz Socket AM4 PM 14812: $169.99
    • AMD Ryzen 5 2600X 6-Core 3.6GHz Socket AM4 PM 14362: $159.99
    • AMD Ryzen 5 2600 6-Core 3.4GHz Socket AM4 PM ?: $119.99
    • AMD Ryzen 5 1600 6-Core 3.2GHz AM4 PM 12279: $114.82
    • AMD Ryzen 3 3200G 4-Core 3.6GHz AM4 PM 8016: $94.99
    • AMD Ryzen 3 2200G 4-Core 3.5GHz AM4 PM 7324: $87.99
    • AMD Ryzen 3 1200 4-Core 3.1GHz AM4 PM 6792: $59.99
    • AMD FX-8350 Vishera 8-Core 4.0GHz Socket AM3+ PM ?: $197.29
    • AMD FX-6350 PM 6954: $?
  • AM4 Motherboards: All AMD4 ATX, most X570 chip set:
    • ASUS ROG STRIX X570-E Gaming: 4x288 memory slots (128GB Max), 2xPCI Express 4.0x16, 1xPCI Express, 8xSATA 6GBs, Radeon Vega Graphics, multi-VGA, SupremeFX High Definition Audio, 2.5G LAN, Wireless 2x2 Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth, 7xUSB 3.2: $326.99
    • ASRock X570 Taichi: $299.99
    • ASRock X470 Taichi: $269.99
    • [*] ASRock X570 Steel Legend WiFi: $199.99
    • ASUS TUF Gaming X570-Plus: $199.59
    • ASUS Prime X470-Pro: 64GB RAM max (DDR4 4x288, 2400-3600), video, audio, 1GB LAN: $149.99
    • ASRock X570 Phantom Gaming 4: $148.99
    • ASUS ROG STRIX B-450-F Gaming: 64GB Max, PCI Express 3.0x16, : $129.99
  • AM4 Motherboards: All AMD4 Micro-ATX:
    • ASUS TUF B-450M-Plus Gaming: AMD 8450 chipset, 4x288 DDR4 (64GB max), 1 PCI Express 2.0x16, 1 PCI Express 2.0x1, 2+4xSATA 6GB/s, Radeon Vega graphics, 10/100/1000 LAN: $99.36
  • RAM: DDR4 SDRAM:
    • Corsair Vengeance LPX 128GB (4x32GB) DDR4 2400: $579.99
    • Corsair Vengeance LPX 64GB (2x32GB) DDR4 3000: $324.99
    • Corsair Vengeance LPX 64GB (4x16GB) DDR4 3200: $319.99
    • Corsair Vengeance LPX 64GB (4x16GB) DDR4 3000: $285.99
    • G.SKILL TridentZ 64GB (4x16GB) DDR4 3600: $329.99
    • [*] G.SKILL TridentZ 64GB (4x16GB) DDR4 3000: $289.99
    • G.SKILL Ripjaws V 64GB (4x16GB) DDR4 3600: $289.99
    • G.SKILL Ripjaws V 64GB (4x16GB) DDR4 3200: X[$249.99] $322.05
    • G.SKILL Ripjaws V 64GB (4x16GB) DDR4 2666: $269.99
    • G.SKILL Aegis 64GB (4x16GB) DDR4 2133: $219.99
  • SSD:; SSD PCI Express 4.0 Hyper M.2 SSD is faster:
    • Samsung 860 EVO 2.5" 1TB SATA III: $129.99
    • Western Digital 3D NAND 2.5" 1TB SATA III: $114.99
    • Intel 660p M.2 2280 1TB PCIe NVMe 3.0 x4 3D2: $109.99
    • Samsung 860 EVO 2.5" 500GB SATA III: $74.99
  • Cases: ATX
    • Corsair Crystal 570X Glass Mid Tower: $189.97
    • LIAN LI PC-011 Dynamic Razer Edition Mid Tower: $164.99
    • Phanteks Eclipse P600S Antracite Gray Steel/Tempered Glass Mid Tower: $149.99+$6.99
    • Thermaltake Core X71 Tempered Glass Full Tower: $142.52
    • Antec Nine Hundred Black Steel Mid Tower: $132.90
    • Phanteks Enthoo PH-ES614P_BK Black Steel/Plastic Full Tower: $99.99+$6.99
    • Antec Performance Series P110 Luce Mid Tower: $99.99
    • Antec Three Hundred Two Black Steel Mid Tower: $94.77
    • Corsair Carbide SPEC-06 Black Steel/Plastic/Tempered Glass Mid Tower: $89.99
    • Corsair Carbide SPEC-05 Black Steel/Plastic/Acrylic Mid Tower: $65.99
    • DIYPC D480-W-RGB White Mid Tower: $58.99
    • Fractal Design focus G White Mid Tower: $54.97+$7.99
  • Power Supplies: ATX12V/EPS12V, full modular:
    • Corsair RMx series: 1000W: $199.98; 850W: $129.99; 750W: $119.89; 650W: $114.99; 550W: $99.99
    • Corsair RM series: 850W: $124.98; 750W: $114.99; 650W: $104.99
    • Corsair CX series: 550W: $64.99; 450W: $59.99
    • EVGA SuperNOVA: 1000W: $184.37; 850W: $139.99; 750W: $160.99, 650W: $161.98; 550W: $109.99
    • Thermaltake Toughpower Grand: 850W: $124.00; 750W: $94.99; 650W: 92.99
    • Thermaltake Smart Pro: 750W: $86.00
  • CD/DVD Burners: SATA
    • ASUS DRW-24B1ST: $22.94

Monday, October 07, 2019

Music Week

Expanded blog post, October archive (in progress).

Music: current count 32183 [32156] rated (+27), 229 [219] unrated (+10).

Slow start on the week, partly because I flushed Monday's listening out in September Streamnotes, and ended this Sunday night. Partly because the Kevin Sun 2-CD album sat in the changer four days while I slowly made up my mind. Sun's album never quite matched his Trio debut, nor is the George Coleman album quite as terrific as his The Master Speaks, but in the end both came close enough. Among the also-rans, Laurie Anderson's spoken word over Tibetan ghost music came closest, and might deserve further attention. Turns out Phil Overeem likes the album a lot (number 9 on his latest list. Also found my two good vault albums there. More to follow next week.

I added those and a few others to my metacritic file. In turn I checked out several of the better-rated albums I hadn't bothered with, but didn't find I enjoyed it much. Most I'm pretty sure of, but artists like Angel Olsen, Bon Iver, and Jessica Pratt just make me wonder if I'm getting too old for this shit. Also in the "don't do it for me" category are fairly ordinary rockers like Cherry Glazerr, Sleater-Kinney, and Girl Band.

Got a lot of mail last week (today's take is listed below but not counted above). I'm noting future release dates as I get them, also when I do reviews. The queue is usually sorted FIFO, as I suspect keeping it sorted by release date would be a big hassle. Upcoming week may be less than usual, as I have some house projects, plus a bit of cooking coming up. Then some medical shit, before Trump takes that away, too.


New records reviewed this week:

  • Laurie Anderson/Tenzin Choegyal/Jesse Paris Smith: Songs From the Bardo (2019, Smithsonian Folkways): [r]: B+(***)
  • Ben Bennett/Zach Darrup/Jack Wright: Never (2018, Palliative): [bc]: B+(*)
  • Bon Iver: I,I (2019, Jagjaguwar): [r]: B
  • Danny Brown: Uknowhatimsayinż (2019, Warp): [r]: B+(***)
  • Cherry Glazerr: Stuffed & Ready (2019, Secretly Canadian): [r]: B
  • George Coleman: The Quartet (2019, Smoke Sessions): [r]: A-
  • The Comet Is Coming: The Afterlife (2019, Impulse!): [r]: B+(*)
  • Kris Davis: Diatom Ribbons (2018 [2019], Pyroclastic): [r]: B+(***)
  • Girl Band: The Talkies (2019, Rough Trade): [r]: B+(*)
  • Robert Glasper: Fuck Yo Feelings (2019, Loma Vista): [r]: B+(*)
  • Mika: My Name Is Michael Holbrook (2019, Republic/Virgin EMI): [r]: B+(**)
  • Simon Nabatov: Readings: Red Cavalry (2018 [2019], Leo): [r]: B+(*)
  • Simon Nabatov: Readings: Gileya Revisited (2018 [2019], Leo): [r]: B+(*)
  • Angel Olsen: All Mirrors (2019, Jagjaguwar): [r]: B+(*)
  • Jessica Pratt: Quiet Signs (2019, Mexican Summer): [r]: B-
  • Carmen Sandim: Play Doh (2019, Ropeadope): [cd]: B+(*) [10-25]
  • Sleater-Kinney: The Center Won't Hold (2019, Mom + Pop): [r]: B
  • Tyshawn Sorey and Marilyn Crispell: The Adornment of Time (2018 [2019], Pi): [cd]: B+(**)
  • Kevin Sun: The Sustain of Memory (2019, Endectomorph Music, 2CD): [cd]: A- [11-15]
  • Tegan and Sara: Hey, I'm Just Like You (2019, Warner Brothers): [r]: B+(**)
  • Andrés Vial/Dezron Douglas/Eric McPherson: Gang of Three (2019, Chromatic Audio): [cd]: B+(***)

Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:

  • Fania Goes Psychedelic (1967-71 [2019], Craft Latino): [r]: B+(***)
  • World Spirituality Classics 2: The Time for Peace Is Now (1970s [2019], Luaka Bop): [r]: B+(***)

Old music:

  • Bertrand Denzler Cluster: Y? (1998 [2000], Leo Lab): [r]: B+(***)
  • Bertrand Denzler/Norbert Pfammatter: NanoCluster 02/2000 (2000, Leo Lab): [r]: B+(**)


Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • Rez Abbasi: A Throw of Dice by the Silent Ensemble (Whirlwind): October 19
  • Katerina Brown: Mirror (Mellowtone Music): October 18
  • Drumming Cellist [Kristijan Krajncan]: Abraxas (Sazas)
  • Lorenzo Feliciati/Michele Rabbia: Antikythera (RareNoise): cdr, October 25
  • Satoko Fujii/Joe Fonda: Four (Long Song): November 8
  • Francesco Guerri: Su Mimmi Non Si Spara! (RareNoise): cdr, October 25
  • Roger Kellaway: The Many Open Minds of Roger Kellaway (IPO): November 1
  • Doug MacDonald & the Tarmac Ensemble: Jazz Marathon 4: Live at Hangar 18 (DMAC): October 15
  • Bernie Mora & Tangent: No Agenda (Rhombus)
  • The Niro Featuring Gary Lucas: The Complete Jeff Buckley and Gary Lucas Songbook (Esordisco): November 8
  • Northern Ranger: Eastern Stranger (self-released, EP)
  • Miles Okazaki: The Sky Below (Pi): October 25
  • Anne Phillips: Live at the Jazz Bakery (Conawago)
  • Chip Stephens/Stenn Wilson: Sadness & Soul (Capri): October 18
  • Dave Stryker: Eight Track Christmas (Strikezone): November 1
  • Esbjörn Svensson Trio: E.S.T. Live in Gothenburg (2001, ACT, 2CD): October 25
  • Gebhard Ullmann/Hans Lüdemann/Oliver Potratz/Eric Schaefer: MikroPULS (Intuition): October 18
  • Brahja Waldman: Brahja (RR Gems): cdr

Sunday, October 06, 2019

Weekend Roundup

Once again, ran out of time before I could get around to an introduction. The impeachment story rolls on, and Trump is getting weirder and freakier than ever. Meanwhile, more bad shit is happening than I can get a grip on. And what's likely to happen when the new Supreme Court gets down to business. Once you tote up all the damage Trump's election directly causes, you need to look up "opportunity costs."


Some scattered links this week:

Thursday, October 03, 2019

Daiy Log

Zhanna Pataky visited Eastern Europe this summer, and came back wanting to cook something Hungarian. We had previously collaborated on a couple of Russian dinners, and I'm always game for a new cuisine. Did some shopping at Amazon, and wound up buying one cookbook: Silvena Johan Lauta: The Food & Cooking of Hungary. Here's a first stab at a possible menu:

  • Hungarian Goulash: a beef stew, with onion, tomato, green bell pepper, potatoes, spices (paprika, caraway), served with Hungarian Dumplings. Alternative: Rabbit Goulash Stew: as above but with rabbit instead of beef, chicken stock, potatoes or dumpling on side; or Venison Goulash: similar, with venison shoulder instead of beef, chicken stock, carrot and parsnip, potatoes or dumpling on side.
  • Hungarian Dumplings: egg, flour, herbs; serve with bacon and butter. Alternative: any other dumpling dish, like Oregano and Cumin Dumplings, Transylvanian Dumplings with Olives, Herb Semolina Dumplings, or Pinched Noodles.
  • Feta and Paprika Bruschetta: ciabatta bread slices, toasted, topped with feta, cream cheese, spices (mustard, cumin, paprika); suggest serve with tomato salad (not in recipe; picture shows red onion garnish, with tomatoes and cucumbers on side).
  • Transylvanian Stuffed Mushrooms: button (or baby portabella?) mushrooms, stuffed with ricotta, thyme, bacon); suggest serve with green salad.
  • Hungarian Cold Buffet Salad with Mustard: cooked and diced ham, frankfurters, potato, carrot, peas, eggs, green beans, gherkins, with dijon mustard, parsley, and mayonnaise (home-made).
  • Pan-fried Pike with Cream and Dill Sauce: white fish fillets, flour, fried in butter with wild mushrooms; sauce, on side, is fish stock, white wine, cream, and fresh dill. Alternative: Trout in Horseradish Sauce: trout, poached with root vegetables (carrot, parsnip, onion), with sour cream, horseradish; serve with boiled potatoes and steamed green vegetables.
  • Hungarian Chocolate Almond Torte: cake with dark chocolate, butter, eggs, brown sugar, ground almonds, 2 tbs. flour (so not quite flourless); topped with ganache and almond topping. Alternative: Hungarian Pancakes with Pecan Filling: thin pancakes filled with pecans, golden raisins, lemon zest, apricot jam, cinnamon, sugar; and/or a fruit dessert, like Walnut Baked Prunes: prunes, orange juice and zest, sour cream, bread crumbs, walnuts, butter; or Roasted Pears With Honey: pears, butter, rosemary, balsamic, honey. Other options from elsewhere (see below) include Somloi Trifle ("Hungary's favorite dessert") and Dobos Torte (from The Gourmet Cookbook).

Some other dishes that caught my eye, but are probably de trop:

  • Chicken and Paprika Stew with Sour Cream: cubed chicken breast, onion, tomato, green bell pepper, sour cream, paprika.
  • Venison Meatballs: ground venison and veal, bread crumbs, egg, formed into meatballs, dusted with flour, fried; sauce with chicken stock, sour cream, paprika, herbs.
  • Pancakes with Creamy Feta Cheese and Wild Garlic: crepes, filled with feta, yogurt, sour cream, wild garlic leaves.
  • Pearl Barley Salad with Grapes and Pistachio Nuts: pearl barley (cooked), tomato, green bell pepper, cucumber, white seedless grapes, parsley, mint, toasted pistachio nuts.

I've previously made goulash from the recipe in The Gourmet Cookbook. It's a bit more complicated than this one, but similar. It's one of only four Hungarian recipes in the book. Chicken Paprika is another -- again, similar to above, but calls for thighs. The other two are desserts: Chocolate-orange Dobostorte, and Hungarian chocolate mousse cake bars. The former is very complex and ornate, with eight layers of sponge cake (white, with orange zest), glazed with orange syrup, separated by layers of chocolate buttercream, topped by a layer of caramel, the sides covered with buttercream and hazelnuts. The bars are also quite complex, with chocolate cake layers, apricot jam, a chocolate mousse filling, a whipped cream filling, and a chocolate glaze. The cake layers are baked in a 10x15 pan, then cut into bars after assembling.

Most of the goulash recipes I see on the internet call for ground beef and elbow macaroni (some adding cheddar cheese) -- some of these are explicitly labeled American Goulash. Flat egg noodles are sometimes used. Ones explicitly labeled "Hungarian Goulash" start with beef cubes. The most minimal is just beef, onion, and paprika. Others add tomato, bell pepper, carrot and/or potato, also extra flavors (one has brown sugar and balsamic vinegar). Most are served over separately-cooked egg noodles.

Lots of soups in the cookbook, but since it's at most practical to serve one, and since Goulash counts (as would Chicken Paprika), I've ignored the others.

Some other recipes I've noticed while searching for Hungarian recipes:

  • Sour Cherry Soup
  • Strawberry Soup
  • Beef Paprikash with Fire-Roasted Tomatoes
  • Hungarian Short Ribs
  • Garlic Pork Rib Roast with Parsley Potatoes
  • Grandma Schwartz's Rouladen: beef top round
  • Meat Stew (Porkolt)
  • Shepherd's Noodles (Pasztortarhonya): bacon, sausage, tarhonya (some kind of noodle).
  • Crispy Pork Belly
  • Baked Garlic Paprika Chicken
  • Butternut Goulash
  • New World Stuffed Cabbage
  • Beef & Rice Stuffed Cabbage Rolls
  • Cucumber Salad: sour cream or vinegar.
  • Hungarian-Style Green Beans
  • Layered Potatoes (Rakott Krumpli): potatoes, eggs, sausage, sour cream, cheese.
  • Potato Pancakes (Lapcsznka)
  • Pickled Sweet Peppers
  • Stuffed Peppers (Toltott Paprika)
  • Vegetable Stew (Lecso): a paprika stew, variations: egg, sausage.
  • Fozelek: another vegetable stew (no translation).
  • Cabbage & Noodles (Haluski)
  • Horseradish Deviled Eggs
  • Fried Dough (Langos): topped with sour cream and cheese; note this tops several lists.
  • Palacsinta (Crepes)
  • Cheese Noodles (Turos Csusza)
  • Fried Cheese (Rantott Sajt): Swiss or mozzarella dredged in egg and breadcrumbs, then fried.
  • Apple Strudle
  • Cardamon-Blackberry Linzer Cookies
  • Cookie Crust Deep-Dish Apple Pie
  • Hungarian Nut Rolls
  • Hungarian Walnut Cookies: more like rugelach.
  • Layered Pastry (Flodni): walnut, apple, poppyseed, jam.
  • Somloi Trifle (Somloi Galuska): three types of sponge cake (plain, walnut, chocolate), raising, walnuts, drizzled with dark chocolate rum sauce, topped with whipped cream.
  • 5 Layer Cocoa Slices
  • Mezes Kremes: a layered cake with glaze and filling.
  • Kugler Cake: ground almond cake with chocolate filling.
  • Zserbo/Gerbeaud Slice: multi-layered torte with chocolate top.
  • Hungarian Decadent Chocolate Cake

PS: Talked with Zhanna today. She wants to cook two recipes: a thick goulash, using her mother's recipe (Russian, from Kazakhstan, I think), and something with sausages and noodles. She suggested I do chicken paprika, a salad, and a cake. I want to do one of the dumpling recipes, or maybe just the pinched noodles. Adding the chicken (and sausage) leaves no room for fish or meatballs. I still like the feta bruschetta, but think I'll pick the pearl barley salad over the cold buffet salad (which could really be a one-dish meal). I'll probably go with the chocolate almond torte, although the solmoi torte is still tempting. Agreed on Friday, October 18 as the date.

Monday, September 30, 2019

Music Week

Expanded blog post, September archive (finished).

Music: current count 32156 [32117] rated (+39), 219 [229] unrated (-10).

When I ran the numbers, they came up a bit short of the list, so I rechecked and found 5-6 I had failed to register grades on. At least one of those should definitely have shown up in this week's list, so I added it, but that makes me suspect I may have slipped up elsewhere. So a reminder: The monthly compilation (link above) is more authoritative than the weekly ones (which are extracted from it). Also, note that some reviews now have a date after the grade. These are records that have future release dates. I've changed my mind several times on how to handle those cases.

Noticed the links in my Music index page needed some updating to reference 2019 files, of which Music Tracking turned out to require the most work: there were literally dozens of dumb typos keeping it from displaying, as well as a bunch of missing grades. I wanted to make sure there was a link to my EOY [Mid-Year] List Aggregate, where I started collecting mid-year best-of list info but have more recently supplemented that with review grades (usually 80+ at AOTY, but I'm tracking other sources as well, especially jazz).

I added several fan lists from an Expert Witness Facebook post, and that (well, plus adding in Michael Tatum's latest grades) was enough to tilt first place from Sharon Van Etten to Billie Eilish. There's still a structural problem that favors records released before July -- Lana Del Rey ranks highest among later releases at 28, and the highest June release is at 21 (Freddie Gibbs & Madlib; highest September release is Charli XCX at 68, followed by Brittany Howard at 73). By the way, one of those fan lists led me to Oompa, another to Octo Octa, and others to most of the African comps below, so they've earned their keep.

Revisited several albums while trying to wrap this up, and wound up promoting Oompa, Andrew Lamb, and Taylor Swift. Possible that Kwi Bamba and Alefa Madasgascar could have benefited from more attention.


New records reviewed this week:

  • Karl Berger/Jason Kao Hwang: Conjure (2014 [2019], True Sound): [cd]: B [10-01]
  • Randy Brecker/Ada Rovatti: Brecker Plays Rovatti: Sacred Bond (2019, Piloo): [cd]: B+(**) [10-25]
  • Zack Clarke Trio: Vertical Shores (2017 [2019], Clean Feed): [r]: B+(*)
  • DaBaby: Kirk (2019, Interscope): [r]: B+(***)
  • Sam Dillon: Out in the Open (2018, Cellar Live): [r]: B+(**)
  • Sam Dillon: Force Field (2018 [2019], Posi-Tone): [r]: B+(*)
  • Harris Eisenstadt: Canada Day Quartet Live (2018 [2019], Clean Feed): [r]: B+(**)
  • Gabriel Ferrandini: Volúpias (2017 [2019], Clean Feed): [r]: B+(**)
  • Vyacheslav Ganelin/Deniss Pashkevich/Arkady Gotesman: Variations (2018 [2019], Jersika): [r]: B+(*)
  • The Garifuna Collective: Aban (2019, Stonetree Music): [r]: B+(**)
  • Kano: Hoodies All Summer (2019, Parlophone): [r]: B+(*)
  • Petros Klampanis: Irrationalities (2017 [2019], Enja): [cd]: B+(**) [10-18]
  • The Baba Andrew Lamb Trio: The Night of the 13th' Moon (2018 [2019], LFDS): [bc]: A-
  • Landline: Landline (2019, Loyal Label): [cd]: B+(**) [11-01]
  • Guillaume Muller: Sketches of Sound (2019, self-released): [cd]: B+(*)
  • Laura Noejovich: Laura Has New Standards (2018 [2019], Enchanted Meadow): [cd]: C+ [11-02]
  • Octo Octa: Resonant Body (2019, T4T LUV NRG): [bc]: B+(***)
  • Oompa: Cleo (2019, OompOutLoud): [r]: A-
  • Miles Perkin Quartet: The Point in Question (2018 [2019], Clean Feed): [r]: B+(*)
  • Cene Resnik Trio 'Watch for Dogs': Shades of Colors (2016 [2019], Not Two): [r]: B+(**)
  • Kendrick Scott Oracle: A Wall Becomes a Bridge (2019, Blue Note): [r]: B+(*)
  • Matthew Snow: Iridescence (2018 [2019], self-released): [cd]: B+(***) [11-29]
  • Something Blue [Alexa Tarantino/Nick Finzer/Sam Dillon/Art Hirahara/Boris Kozlov/Rudy Royston]: Maximum Enjoyment (2018 [2019], Posi-Tone): [r]: B+(*)
  • The Souljazz Orchestra: Chaos Theories (2019, Strut): [r]: B+(*)
  • STL GLD: The New Normal (2019, AR Classic): [r]: B+(**)
  • Alexa Tarantino: Winds of Change (2019, Posi-Tone): [r]: B+(**)
  • Ben Van Gelder/Tony Tixier/Tom Berkmann/Mathias Ruppnig: Scopes (2019, Whirlwind): [r]: B+(**)
  • Mareike Wiening: Metropolist Paradise (2018 [2019], Greenleaf Music): [cd]: B+(*) [11-01]
  • Eri Yamamoto Trio & Choral Chameleon: Goshu Ondo Suite (2018 [2019], AUM Fidelity): [cd]: A- [11-15]

Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:

  • Alefa Madagascar (1970s-80s [2019], Strut): [bc]: B+(***)
  • Louis Armstrong: Live in Europe (1948-52 [2019], Dot Time): [r]: B+(**)
  • Kwi Bamba: Kwi Bamba & L'Orchestre De Gama Berema (1997 [2018], Ouch!): [bc]: B+(***)
  • John Coltrane: Blue World (1964 [2019], Impulse!): [r]: A-
  • Nâ Hawa Doumbia: La Grande Cantatrice Malienne Vol. 1: Decouverte 81 a Dakar (1981 [2019], Awesome Tapes From Africa): [r]: B+(***)

Old music:

  • Nâ Hawa Doumbia: La Grande Cantatrice Malienne Vol. 3: Korodia (1982 [2011], Awesome Tapes From Africa): [bc]: B+(**)


Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • Randy Brecker/Ada Rovatti: Brecker Plays Rovatti: Sacred Bond (Piloo): October 25
  • Tyshawn Sorey and Marilyn Crispell: The Adornment of Time (Pi)
  • Andrés Vial/Dezron Douglas/Eric McPherson: Gang of Three (Chromatic Audio): October 4

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Weekend Roundup

I noticed this image somewhere recently, and was reminded that I had used it every Weekend Roundup for several months early in the Trump regnum. While I eventually put the image aside, I have in fact done this every weekend since the reign of terror started, so figured I'm entitled to resurrect the image. You can find it in the notebook starting on February 5, 2017, and scroll up from there (the entries are last-in/first-out).

Last week's "whistleblower" story has, like a tropical depression growing into a hurricane entering warm Carribbean waters, mushroomed into this week's (and the rest of this year's, and most of 2020's) impeachment extravaganza.

Many links follow:


As an intro to everything, see Vox's The 10 biggest stories you missed while you were glued to the Trump impeachment drama:

  • A new report finds humans have caused irreversible changes to the Earth's oceans and places
  • The UK's Supreme Court thwarts Prime Minister Boris Johnson's Brexit ploy
  • The Trump administration slams the door on refugees
  • The WeWork implosion is sending shockwaves across Silicon Valley
  • The fight over Joker rages on -- before the movie has even arrived in theaters
  • GM workers strike for second week
  • Protesters in Egypt rise up against President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi
  • Greta Thunberg versus Trump and some right-wing trolls
  • Hate speech online is apparently fine, so long as it's only from politiians
  • Spider-Man returns to the Marvel Cinematic Universe

My own link picks on some of these stories (but adding a few more):

Monday, September 23, 2019

Music Week

Expanded blog post, September archive (in progress).

Music: current count 32117 [32080] rated (+37), 229 [227] unrated (+2).

Didn't get my unpacking done until late Monday afternoon, so that became the cutoff -- adding 2 rated albums from Sunday night, and flipping the unrated count from -9 to +2. Before unpacking, I had managed to empty the new jazz queue, but it's up to 12 now. And it turns out that most of the new records don't drop until November, so I probably shouldn't rush on them.

Robert Christgau's first post-Noisey Consumer Guide was mailed out last week. As he promised in his introduction (It's a Start), "the first one is free," so here it is. Follow one of the "Subscribe now" buttons to make get the second and subsequent consumer guides, plus any additional missives, delivered straight to your mailbox.

Probably because he was working off a backlog, but I had heard all but two albums from this month's offering (both various artists comps): The Daisy Age (Ace) and Lost in China (Riverboat). And I only found one of those streamable, so it's in this week's haul. This won't be a regular feature, but I thought I'd table up our grades (his first):

  • Charlotte Adigéry: Zandozi (Deewee) [***, **]
  • Hayes Carll: What It Is (Dualtone) [B+, A-]
  • The Daisy Age (Ace) [A+, ?]
  • Lana Del Rey: Norman Fucking Rockwell! (Interscope) [***, A-]
  • Lost in China (Riverboat) [B+, **] *
  • Madonna: Madame X (Interscope) [A-, A-]
  • The National: I Am Easy to Find (4AD) [A-, **]
  • The Paranoid Style: A Goddamn Impossible Way of Life (Bar/None) [A, ***]
  • Pink: Hurts 2 B Human (RCA) [**, ***]
  • 75 Dollar Bill: I Was Real (Glitterbeat/Tak:til) [A-, ***]
  • Bruce Springsteen: Western Stars (Columbia) [*, B-]
  • Taylor Swift: Lover (Republic) [A-, ***]

Presumably some of these differences can be chalked up to reports that he plays these records at least twice as many times as I do, plus has the benefit of working from physical copies. (I own none of them, although on his word I've ordered The Daisy Age, which Amazon informs me should arrive by Xmas.) The one I most likely shortchanged was probably the National, which I recall only gaving one spin. The only non-trivial differences are on Paranoid Style (I'm not nearly as impressed by Elizabeth Nelson as he is) and Springsteen (perhaps there is some redeeming social merit there, but I doubt it's worth digging out). Nelson, by the way, has a much-praised recent essay on The Mekons Rock 'N' Roll.

I could do the same thing with Michael Tatum's latest A Downloader's Diary (51), which doesn't have much more I hadn't heard. Again, his grades first, mine after, '*' for ones I got to after the fact:

  • Carsie Blanton: Buck Up (self-released) [A, A-]
  • Blarf: Cease and Desist (Stones Throw) [A-, B-] *
  • Car Seat Headrest: Commit Yourself Completely (Matador) [A-, **] *
  • Stef Chura: Midnight (Saddle Creek) [A-, **]
  • GoldLink: Diaspora (RCA) [A-, ***]
  • Jambú (E Os Míticos Sons da Amazônia) (Analog Africa) [B+, ***]
  • Kokoko!: Fongola (Transgressive) [A-, **] *
  • Madonna: Madame X (Interscope) [A, A-]
  • Purple Mountains: Purple Mountains (Drag City) [A+, ***]
  • Sleater-Kinney: The Center Won't Hold (Mom + Pop) [B+, ?]
  • Spoon: Everything Hits at Once: The Best of Spoon [B+, ?]
  • Freddie Gibbs & Madlib: Bandana (ESGN/Keep Cool/Madlib Invasion/RCA) [***, A-]
  • Mekons: Deserted (Glitterbeat) [***, ***]
  • The Hold Steady: Thrashing Through the Passion (Frenchkiss) [***, A-]
  • Imperial Teen: Now We Are Timeless (Merge) [**, ?]
  • Ibibio Sound Machine: Doko Mien (Merge) [**, ?]
  • Kate Tempest: The Book of Traps and Lessons (American) [**, *]
  • Digital Kabar: Electronic Maloya from La Réunion Since 1980 (Infiné) [**, ?]
  • Nilüfer Yanya: Miss Universe (ATO) [*, A-]
  • Nigeria 70: No Wahala: Highlife, Afro-Funk & Juju 1973-1987 (Strut) [*, A-]
  • Beyoncé: Homecoming: The Live Album (Parkwood/Columbia) [C+, *]
  • Bruce Springsteen: Western Stars (Columbia) [B-, B-]
  • Weyes Blood: Titanic Rising (Sub Pop) [B-, B-]
  • Anderson .Paak: Ventura (12 Tone/Aftermath) [B-, ***]
  • Marvin Gaye: You're the Man (Motown) [B-, **]
  • Hama: Houmeissa (Sahel Sounds) [B-, *]
  • Sebadoh: Act Surprised (Dangerbird) [B-, ?]
  • Kim Petras: Clarity (Bunhead) [C+, ?]
  • Offset: Father of 4 (Motown/Quality Control) [C+, ?]

So not much there I didn't know about and went on to find brilliant (and sure, I still have some listening to do), but the reviews themselves were way beyond anything I could have written (one reason, I'm afraid, I rarely bother anymore).

Took a dive into Teddy Edwards this week. Idea came up when I saw Out of This World as a new reissue, but given that it's digital only, I used the hard-copy dates. His best record remains Together Again!, with Howard McGhee (1961). I might also note that the Art Pepper box isn't quite up to many of his period recordings, including most of The Complete Galaxy Recordings, or a lot of the live bootlegs Laurie Pepper has been reissuing. Still remarkable.

September has five Mondays, one more after today, so I can wait until then to index September Streamnotes.


New records reviewed this week:

  • Reid Anderson/Dave King/Craig Taborn: Golden Valley Is Now (2018 [2019], Intakt): [r]: B-
  • AP6C [Alberto Pinton Sestetto Contemporaneo]: Layers (2017 [2019], Clear Now): [cd]: B+(**)
  • Terrence Brewer & Pamela Rose: Don't Worry 'Bout Me (Strong Brew Music, EP): [cd]: B+(*)
  • Taylor Ho Bynum 9-tette: The Ambiguity Manifesto (2019, Firehouse 12): [r]: B+(**)
  • Jimmy Cobb: Remembering U (2016 [2019], Jimmy Cobb World): [r]: B+(*)
  • Jimmy Cobb: This I Dig of You (2019, Smoke Sessions): [r]: B+(**)
  • The Raymond De Felitta Trio: Pre-War Charm (2019, Blujazz): [cd]: B+(***)
  • Laszlo Gardony: La Marseillaise (2019, Sunnyside): [cd]: B+(**) [10-24]
  • Ghostface Killah: Ghostface Killahs (2019, Now Generation): [r]: B+(***)
  • Gordon Grdina Quartet: Cooper's Park (2019, Songlines): [r]: B+(***)
  • Keiji Haino/Merzbow/Balasz Pandi: Become the Discovered, Not the Discoverer (2019, RareNoise): [cdr]; B+(*) [09-27]
  • Chrissie Hynde With the Valve Bone Woe Ensemble: Valve Bone Woe (2019, BMG): [r]: B
  • Indoor Pets: Be Content (2019, Wichita): [r]: B+(*)
  • Ethan Iverson Quartet With Tom Harrell: Common Practice (2017 [2019], ECM): [r]: B+(*)
  • Jpegmafia: All My Heroes Are Cornballs (2019, EQT): [r]: B+(**)
  • Led Bib: It's Morning (2018 [2019], RareNoise): [cdr]: B [09-27]
  • Ben Markley Quartet Featuring Joel Frahm: Slow Play (2019, OA2): [cd]: B+(**)
  • Monoswezi: A Je (2017, Riverboat): [r]: B+(*)
  • Tish Oney With the John Chlodini Trio: The Best Part (2019, Blujazz): [cd]: B-
  • Ivo Perelman/Matthew Shipp: Efflorescence: Volume 1 (2018 [2019], Leo, 4CD): [cd]: B+(***)
  • Peterson Kohler Collective: Winter Colors (2018 [2019], Origin): [cd]: B+(**)
  • Alberto Pinton Trio: Röd (2018, Clear Now): [bc]: B+(***)
  • Noah Preminger Group: Zigsaw: Music of Steve Lampert (2018 [2019], self-released): [cd]: A- [10-04]
  • Preservation Hall Jazz Band: A Tuba to Cuba (2019, Sub Pop): [r]: B+(*)
  • Kojey Radical: Cashmere Tears (2019, Asylum/Atlantic): [r]: B+(*)
  • Markus Rutz: Blueprints Figure One: Frameworks (2018 [2019], OA2): [cd]: B+(**)
  • Rachid Taha: Je Suis Africain ([2019], Naďve): [r]: A-

Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:

  • Lost in China: Off the Beaten Track From Beijing to Xinjiang ([2017], Riverboat): [r]: B+(**)
  • Art Pepper: Promise Kept: The Complete Artists House Recordings (1979 [2019], Omnivore, 5CD): [r]: A-

Old music:

  • Teddy Edwards Quartet: Good Gravy! (1961, Contemporary): [r]: B+(**)
  • Teddy Edwards: Heart & Soul (1962, Contemporary): [r]: B+(*)
  • Teddy Edwards: Nothin' but the Truth (1966 [1967], Prestige): [r]: B+(*)
  • Teddy Edwards Quartet: Out of This World (1980 [1981], SteepleChase): [r]: B+(**)
  • Teddy Edwards/Houston Person: Close Encounters (1996 [1999], HighNote): [r]: B+(**)
  • Teddy Edwards: Smooth Sailing (2001 [2003], HighNote): [r]: B+(**)
  • Steve Lampert: Venus Perplexed (2000 [2004], SteepleChase): [r]: B+(***)
  • Steve Lampert: Music From There (2006 [2007], Bridge): [r]: B+(**)
  • Alberto Pinton: Nascent (2012 [2013], Redhorn): [r]: B+(**)


Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • Simone Baron & Arco Belo: The Space Between Disguises (GenreFluid) November 8
  • Karl Berger/Jason Kao Hwang: Conjure (True Sound): October 1
  • Petros Klampanis: Irrationalities (Enja): October 18
  • Landline: Landline (Loyal Label): November 1
  • Remy Le Boeuf: Assembly of Shadows (SoundSpore): November 1
  • Guillaume Muller: Sketches of Sound (self-released): October 1
  • Laura Noejovich: Laura Has New Standards (Enchanted Meadow): November 2
  • Carmen Sandim: Play Doh (Ropeadope): October 25
  • Matthew Snow: Iridescence (self-released): November 29
  • Kevin Sun: The Sustain of Memory (Endectomorph Music): November 15
  • Mareike Wiening: Metropolist Paradise (Greenleaf Music): November 1
  • Eri Yamamoto Trio & Choral Chameleon: Goshu Ondo Suite (AUM Fidelity): November 15


   Mar 2001