If I have to read another grant proposal I think I'm going to auto-defenestrate, so I'm taking a little break to finish up a post I started a couple of days ago. Here's what I've cramming inside my squishy little brain of late.
What I'm reading now:
- Treason's Harbour, by Patrick O'Brian - #9 in the Aubrey/Maturin series; skullduggery and derring-do in early 19th century Malta.
- Silence and Witness: The Quaker Tradition, by Michael Birkel - we were reading from this for our Meeting's Quakerism 101 discussions some time back. A good primer on Quaker history and practice.
- Persepolis, by Marjane Satrapi - I have an enormous crush on this poignant, funny, heartbreaking graphic novel and its author.
- Thirst, by Mary Oliver - see my earlier post for more about this beautiful and painful collection of poems.
- The Essential Writings of Christian Mysticism, edited by Bernard McGinn - I've begun reading a snippet over breakfast each morning. At this rate I'll be drawing Social Security by the time I reach Bernard of Clairvaux.
What I just put down:
- The Quakers in America, by Thomas Hamm - wanna know the differences between Conservative Friends and Orthodox Friends? Always been puzzled over what distinguishes a Gurneyite from a Wilburite? No? Well, you should go ahead and read this lucid, succinct account of American Quakerism anyway.
- The Ionian Mission, by Patrick O'Brian - carronades, studdingsails, and figgy-dowdy off the Greek Isles.
- The Plot: The Secret Story of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, by Will Eisner - this graphic novel recounts, in terse historical vignettes, how the hydra of anti-Semitism continues to grow heads even as others are chopped off.
What's on the nightstand:
- Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory: A Journey Into the Evangelical Subculture in America, by Randall Balmer - I picked this up at a used bookstore in Northampton last year, and I'm determined to read it before it's revised again.
- Dakota: A Spiritual Geography, by Kathleen Norris - I've been reading this one in small doses, but I intend to find a day where I can sit down with it and drink in Norris' spare, elegant high-plains prose.
- Persepolis 2, by Marjane Satrapi - doset daram, Mme. Satrapi!
What I'm watching on the teevee:
- The Colbert Report - Isn't this mandatory for GenX libs? Don't they take away your "Garden State" soundtrack or something if you don't watch Colbert?
- Futurama (reruns on Adult Swim) - We demand new episodes NOW! All six of us!
- South Park - to quote Peterson Toscano, "sometimes it takes the court jester to uncover the madness of our times." Word.
- Frontline - Usually depresses the heck out of me, but it's consistently the finest documentary program / news magazine on the air.
What I've rented from Video Americain / ordered from Netflix recently:
- Walk on Water - a top-notch Israeli thriller about a Mossad agent who cozies up to an irresistably adorable German brother and sister so he can assassinate their Nazi war-criminal opa.
- Danger UXB - an excellent British television miniseries from the '80s about the unexploded ordinance units of the Royal Corps of Engineers, who defused German bombs during the Blitz.
- The Prestige - the pledge reels you in, the turn is dazzling, but the prestige itself is like kissing your sister.
- I, Robot - KILL ALL HUMANS. KILL ALL HUMANS. KILL ALL HU -- aw, dang it, the Fresh Prince of Bel Air had to go and ruin everything.
What's taking up memory in my MP3 player:
- Beautiful Rat Sunset, by the Mountain Goats - "Going to Maryland" is my favorite song this week.
- Ash Wednesday, by Elvis Perkins - a gorgeous debut album; the son of Tony "Psycho" Perkins sounds like a cross between M. Ward and Rufus Wainright (that's a good thing).
- In the Valley, by Val Mindel and Emily Miller - honey-sweet old-time mountain harmonies and early country ballads from one of the incredible Sweetback Sisters and her talented mom.
- October 29th, by Caleb Stine & the Brakemen - Caleb creates a pool of stillness around him when he sings. Step into it and you find yourself sitting by a campfire in the Grand Canyon at sundown.
- Hello, Dear Wind, by Page France - Benn of the Mobtown Shank says "if I have to hear one more indie rock band sing about Jesus, I'm gonna start dispatching them to their savior myself." He should probably avoid this album.
Who you should see live, should they come to a town anywhere near you:
- Caleb Stine, with or without the Brakemen - the best singer-songwriter in Baltimore. See above.
- Curtis Eller, with or without his American Circus - America's angriest banjo player yodels like an Alpine shepherd, coos like a pigeon, pines for the 1920's, writes songs about Abraham Lincoln digging up his dead baby, extols Al Jolson and Amelia Earhart, and dances like the love child of Elvis Presley and Charlie Chaplin.
- The Sweetback Sisters - this is how Maybelle Carter would have sounded had she grown up in the Green Mountains of Vermont.
- Jonathan Byrd - a rangy North Carolinian preacher's son with a twangy baritone, who sings new songs that sound a couple hundred years old. Plus he wears a cowboy hat. And makes it work.