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Thursday, June 8, 2017

Parameters for my Favorite Albums of All Time List

In my last post, I mentioned that I wanted to begin compiling a list of my favorite albums of all time. But before I could actually put that list together, I thought I should develop a set of parameters. These parameters aren't meant to be super specific, just general guidelines.

1. Timeframe. All records that make it to my list must be at minimum one to two years old. I want my list to consist of albums that truly hold up. I've noticed that over the years, when I've assembled my "End of the Year " favorites list, I've included albums that really don't hold up. Some reasons are based on quality, some is based on my musical taste changing. I don't want that for this list. I want a "timeless" quality to it. And for me, if I consistently listened to an album over the course of a few years, you can bet that it's one of my favorites. Which is a perfect segue way into number 2.

2. Re-listenability. I should go out of my way every now and then to listen to this album in full. For example, once a year, I always try to listen to George Harrison's All Things Must Pass. I love everything about the record. It's so good. Again for me, that's a characteristic of a great record. I go out of my way to listen to a album at least once a year. Now since I've mentioned a Beatle, I should move onto number 3.

3. Limited Beatles. I love the Beatles, and I could totally make this list consisting of nothing but Beatles albums along with solo Beatles albums. But I don't want to do that. I want my all time list to have some diversity to it. Hence I am limiting myself to one Beatles album and two solo Beatles albums for this list. In total this list will consist of 10 entries, with two honorable mentions, so three spots out of twelve should be plenty to house my Beatles selections. Plus it'll allow me at some point to develop a favorites list consisting of nothing but the Beatles.

There you have it. My basic parameters for my Favorite Albums of All Time List. I'll start next week with my two honorable mentions.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Favorite Albums of All Time

Over the past few days, I've been doing some reflecting regarding what my favorite albums of all time are. The more I thought about it, the more I thought it would be fun to put a list together of my top 10 favorite albums of all time are, and why they mean so much to me.

Before I compile the list, I need to set a few parameters for what makes an album one of my favorite of all time. This will be a fun list to develop.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band 50th Anniversary Remaster

I am utterly blown away by how GREAT the 50th anniversary of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band sounds. It's crisp and the volume is note muted. This remaster allows room for the harmonies, instruments, and other effects. I feel like I am hearing this record for the first time.

In fact, I think the harmonies are the real highlight of this remaster job for me. Hearing how John, Paul, and George's voices blend together in perfect harmony is incredible. I really hope the rest of their catalogue gets a remaster job like this. I will gladly repurchase the catalog if it sounds as good as Sgt. Pepper.

There's also a part of me that hopes that this remastering reminds people why they feel in love with Pepper in the first place. Over the last few years, Pepper's standing in the musical community has gone down slightly, and I truly hope these reminds everyone how great it is.

Monday, May 15, 2017

New Records of 2017

I've always prided myself on embracing new music. I've always had an open ear to check out new records or new artists. This year feels different though. In fact I'm a little disappointed in myself. I feel like there has been absolutely nothing that has "grabbed" my full attention. It is true that there are a number of new records that I have enjoyed very much (Check out the listing below.) There's just nothing that has grabbed my attention.

Maybe it is true, as you age, you get more set in your musical ways. Maybe that's what has happened to me? Maybe 2017 hasn't been that great for music thus far? Maybe the records that will speak to me haven't been released yet. All of the aforementioned ideas could be true or false. Only time will tell. It just feels like last year at this time, I had some many favorite new albums. This year, I feel like I'm in a musical drought, and I keep returning to old favorites.

Chris Thile and Brad Mehldau: Self-Titled

Chris Thile, Yo-Yo Ma, and Edgar Meyer: Bach Trios

Spoon: Hot Thoughts

The Shins: Heartworms

Gorillaz: Humanz

Los Campesinos!: Sick Scenes

Monday, May 8, 2017

New Episode of 'The Looking Glass'

I meant to post this last week, but here is the latest episode of my podcast series: 'The Looking Glass'. The season 2 premier episode is entitled: "The Bradbury Chronicler", and it features Sam Weller. Weller, who is Bradbury's official biographer, discusses how he fell in love with Bradbury's writing as a child, and how he eventually went onto becoming friends with his literary hero. I really like this episode, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did putting it together.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

New Music from the Gorillaz

I know I'm a little behind the curve on this, but my goodness, is the new music from the Gorillaz really, really good.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

The Illustrated Man

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Earlier this year I read an incredible biography of Ray Bradbury entitled: "The Bradbury Chronicles". It is one of the best biographies I've ever read. After reading it, I feel like I knew Bradbury the man. Plus one cool part is the author of the book is a professor at Columbia College here in Chicago, and I was able to interview him for the new season of my podcast 'The Looking Glass'.

Anyways, after I finished reading the biography, I thought it would be fun to go and read one of Bradbury's books. So the book I selected is 'The Illustrated Man'. It's a collection of short stories that are interconnected in an interesting manner. The stories in the book are "tattoos" on a traveling man, and the proceed to tell their stories to a hiker at night.

It's an incredible book. I'm utterly blown away with how great Bradbury is at short stories. Many of the stories in "The Illustrated Man" are emotional, frightening, unnerving, happy, and hard hitting. One of the things that Sam Weller, author of "the Bradbury Chronicles", told me in our interview is that he believes Bradbury will be mentioned in the same breathe as Poe, Hemingway, and Shakespeare. After reading "Illustrated Man", and earlier the "Martian Chronicles" and "Fahrenheit 451", I must say, I agree with that statement.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Sherlock Holmes on Vinyl

One of my new great pleasures in life is listening to the old Basil Rathborne Sherlock Holmes' movies on vinyl. I first came across these amazing pieces of memorabilia about a year ago.

I was record shopping with one of my dear friends at the Reckless Records in Wicker Park, and I found 'The Voice of Terror' in the oddities/soundtrack section of the store. For the small, small price of $1, I purchased one of my all time favorite Sherlock Holmes stories.

Surprisingly, these films translate very well to the audio medium. They are rich in sound recordings, and the performances are terrific. They truly showcase b-movies/film noir at its best.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

And Speaking of 'The Looking Glass'

And speaking of 'The Looking Glass', here's my announcement regarding season 2 of my podcast series.

Finding Some Unexpected Inspiration Today

So I'm in full production mode on season 2 of my podcast series, 'The Looking Glass'. I'm really excited about this upcoming season, as I feel like this season's stories are really strong. What will probably end up being my season premiere will be an interview I conducted with Sam Weller, Associate Professor of Creating Writing at Columbia College Chicago. Professor Weller is/was the "official" biographer of literary titan Ray Bradbury. His biography, "The Bradbury Chronicles" is one of the best biographies that I've ever read.

The interview went great!! Professor Weller is a really nice guy, and he gave a great interview. But there was something that he said that really stuck out at me. We were talking about the creative process, and Bradbury's thoughts on the matter. According to Weller, Bradbury truly believed that creativity was a spiritual exercise, and if you were going to be "something", i.e. writer, storyteller etc., you needed to just do it. Don't worry if it's bad, the only way you get better is by doing.

I feel like I subscribe to the same philosophy, and it was just really rewarding to have this ideal reenforced by someone who became a very close personal friend of Bradbury. I feel a sense of re-energization with my podcast and my other storytelling exercises.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

What is Wisdom

I'm currently reading a fascinating book. It's entitled: Wisdom: A History. It's written by Revor Curnow, who is a professor of philosophy at the University of Cumbria in England. The book discussions wisdom as it is seen through very areas: literature, history, spirituality, etc. But the one thing that Curnow emphasizes early in this book is that there is no "universal" definition of wisdom that every agrees to. Yet, we are all able to identify wisdom by a certain set of characteristics.

I never really thought of wisdom like that. Yet it makes sense that there isn't an official definition of wisdom that all agree to. But yet we always usually describe wisdom through a particular set of characteristics. Just a little food for thought.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

New Episodes of the Looking Glass Podcast

I'm really excited. I've begun pre-production on season 2 and season 3 of my podcast, the Looking Glass. I'm really excited, because the two interviews that I was able to book today, all came to me as ideas over the past 24 hours.

The first interview will be with the photoplay artists (organist) for the Silent Film Society of Chicago. His name is Jay Warren, and he's been a photoplayer for over 40 years. I'm very interested to find out how his passion for silent films began.

The second interview that I booked is with my former Communications advisor, and radio production professor. His name is Dr. Jim Walker, and he wrote a book on the history of baseball on the radio. Plus he just launched his own podcast series called: 'The Baseball Buffet'. He and fellow baseball fans meet once a month, eat lunch together, and talk baseball.

Overall, I believe I have two solid episodes lined up for the next installments of my podcast.

Monday, March 20, 2017

First Posting of March

I cannot believe that I have gone twenty days without a single posting here on my blog. It wasn't even laziness on my part. I got pulled into reading multiple books over the course of March that were absolutely captivating.

The first book was a biography of Ray Bradbury entitled The Bradbury Chronicles. It's absolutely terrific, and I feel like I know Bradbury after reading it. The other cool aspect of the book is that I feel like I found my "spirit animal" where it comes to art, creativity, and storytelling. Bradbury always said be true to the story that you are trying to tell, and keep working. Actually, now that I think of it, it's a pretty inspiring book. Highly recommended if you are interested in Bradbury or just a great biography.

The second series I've been reading quite a bit of is DC Rebirth. Thus far I've read the general Rebirth title, Action Comics, Superman, and Green Arrow. The hype is real for DC Rebirth. It's a great reintroduction to the legendary cast of characters. It's almost like a love letter to fans and to the history of these characters. Plus, I'm really happy that both Superman stories are written so well. He is after all my favorite superhero.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Not a Fan

I am not a fan of tornado warnings at the end of February. Not cool!

Monday, February 27, 2017

Reading DC Comics Again

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As Michael Corleone said in the Godfather Part III: "Just when I think I was out, they pull me back in." Well this is how I feel regarding DC Comics. When the new 52 was announced five or six years ago, I was excited at first. Then afterwards I sort of felt blah about it, and eventually I took a break from reading them, instead focusing on the absolutely fantastic Ghostbusters series at IDW.

Then about a year ago, DC announced "DC Rebirth", which at first I must admit, I was  very dismissive of. I thought it was just another reboot. Well over the course of a year I've read very positive reviews of the storylines, and thought maybe it was time I gave DC another shot.

So over the weekend, I went out and picked up the first graphic novel volume of Action Comics under the "Rebirth" banner. Yay, after I finished reading it last night,  I ended up buying four more volumes. They are so good, and serve as a great reminder as to why these characters are timeless.

I feel that DC comics really has something special happening right now, and I can't wait to see where it goes. Plus, it their "great mystery" of the Rebirth reset, which somehow involves the characters of the critically acclaimed graphic novel "The Watchman", is beyond fascinating and doesn't appear to be any closer to being solved anytime soon. Which I like. Give me a good storyline, and make it last awhile. It'll keep us interested.

So yeah, I know I sound like a commercial for DC Comics, but I highly recommend checking Rebirth out. It's making superhero comic books fun again.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Ray Bradbury Biography

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I'm really excited. I was in the library today, and as I was walking through the stacks a book jumped out at me! The Bradbury Chronicles: The Life of Ray Bradbury is a biography of the great Sci-Fi writer, written by Sam Weller.

What particularly grabbed me was the description of the book on the dust jacket. If this book is half as good as that short description, I am in for a real treat. For instance, I never knew that Bradbury never learned to drive, he only took public transportation or rode his bike. As I get older, I find myself more drawn to that type of lifestyle. In fact, whenever I go downtown or to the north side of Chicago, I always try to take public transportation. There's something about sitting there with a whole group of individuals that makes me feel truly apart of a community.

Plus, anytime I can learn more about the writing of Fahrenheit 451, sign me up.

Monday, February 13, 2017

The Looking Glass Season 2 and 3

After taking a month and a half off, it's time to begin pre-production on my podcast series: 'The Looking Glass'. I'm really excited because I have not one, but two season of content planned. Over-achieving and proud of it.

I'm looking at changing formats slightly for season 2. Instead of exploring a number of random areas, I want to explore one particular subject, and the various arms that connect to the subject.  I'm looking at exploring art, but specifically how individuals choose their particular art form to express themselves in. I've always been interested in exploring the idea of what exactly art is? However I feel that this particular question has been explored at great lengths already, and ultimately, art is subjective. So it may not yield the type of storytelling I'm looking for. But exploring the personal natural of art to a particular individual, should yield some very interesting stories.

For season 3, I'm planning a more traditional season, very much in the vain of season 1. Lots of interesting people, telling their stories of how they got into their particular interests. Some of the topics I'm looking at include, but are not limited to:

  • Classical Music
  • MMA
  • College Radio
  • Pop Culture/Entertainment as a whole
  • Pro-Wrestling
  • Parisan Culture
I'm going to pull a James Cameron, and work on both seasons simultaneously. It should be a very interesting experience to say the least. 

Sunday, January 29, 2017

One Final Thought For Today

Before I completely signed off for the day, I wanted to share one final piece. Over the past month I've been listening to a lot of music from artist Chris Thile. He is the front man of one of my favorite all-time bands, Punch Brothers, and current host of A Prairie Home Companion on NPR. (Both are excellent, and you should really check out both.)

Anyways Thile, along with musician Brad Mehldau, recently released a jazz album entitled Chris Thile and Brad Mehldau. Its fantastic!! It's full of original compositions, along with some great covers. The musicianship of Thile is quite frankly awe inspiring.

Here's a great example.

Why the Post Office Matters

One of my favorite podcasts that I listen to is 99 Percent Invisible. Each week host Roman Mars explores the history and creation of some sort of man made design element that impacts our daily lives. Whether we realize it or not.

This past week's episode is no different. In the episode entitled: 'The Revolutionary Post", producer Katie Mingle and Mars explores how the Post Office played a crucial part in the development of the United States.

I hope this episode will cause you to never look at the post office the same. I don't think I will.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

A Very Interesting Question

My cousin posted a very interesting question on his Facebook the other day. I find He asks: "The question we all need to ask ourselves today... What is more important to you: the world or America?"

I find this question to be absolutely fascinating. With the recent Presidential election primarily focusing on this question, I feel that we as a society are still left without an answer. I do think that members of each of the two major political parties would answer this question in a certain way.

I feel that like I might explore this topic further, and create a podcast based around it. I think it would make some very interesting radio.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Great Story on NPR Today

NPR had a really incredibly story posted on its site today. It's the obituary of Clare Hollingworth. She is the journalist who broke the story of World War II beginning. Reading about her 105 year old life was awe inspiring. The things this woman saw are absolutely incredible. If you have a moment, it is so worth your time.