Playlist 2 -- Bleeding Green, No Country for Old Men, more

Hey there. Another week, another Playlist.

A.J. Jacobs. The Year of Living Biblically. A.J. Jacobs is a riot. I dove into this after reading his book The Know-it-All, in which he attempted to become incredibly smart by reading every page of the Encyclopedia Britannica. In this book, A.J. tries to “literally” follow the Bible’s rules for a year. He doesn’t shave. He stones adulterers. He avoids mixed fibers. And he tries not to covet or lie. It’s hilarious. Jacobs is an agnostic, but jumps fully into the role, or should I say robe. The book (A.J.’s) doesn’t disparage religion at all, but puts perspective on the book (that old one that starts with Genesis) and the people who follow it.

Bleeding Green Nation. And speaking of A.J. Want to keep up on the newest quarterback controversy? Here's the site.

Those who know me well, know the Philadelphia Eagles are not just another distraction, they’re my main focus, especially between August and (I always hope) late January. In the Internet and NFL Network age, it’s easy to keep up with the news. But I miss the passion. This Web site brings it all. And unlike many of the Eagle blogs and message boards out there, it’s intelligent. It’s my daily stop to catch up on the Birds.

Now who thinks that great effort against the Patriots is a springboard to a great run? I sure hope so. But being a Philadelphia sports fan for 30+ years has taught me one thing. Don't get don’t get too optimistic. You'll just get your heart broken.

The Red House Painters. Ocean Beach and Songs for a Blue Guitar. This group is really the work of one man Mark Kozelek. And these two albums are muted, yet very memorable. Although the Painters’ sound is distinct, it covers several categories from folk to alternative country to progressive. They can be loud, but also introspective, sometimes on the same song. Ocean Beach is a quieter, more consistent affair. But Songs for a Blue Guitar is more fun. Kozelek loves doing covers (he’s done albums of Modest Mouse and AC/DC songs) and Blue Guitar has three – Silly Love Songs, Long Distance Runaround and a great version of the Cars’ All Mixed Up that you have to hear. Who do the Painters sound like? Hard to pinpoint, but Kozelek has been compared to a combination between Simon and Garfunkel and Neil Young. Check out the Red House Painters My Space page and listen to their cover of Genesis’ Follow You, Follow Me. Favorite Tracks: Have You Forgotten, Make Like Paper, All Mixed Up, Cabezon and Moments.

You can find a lot of The Red House Painters’ music at www.emusic.com.

No Country for Old Men. All right, I haven’t seen this yet. But this trailer has whet my appetite. It looks like the Coen Brothers have done it again. I don’t know anything about the actor Javier Bardem, but based on the trailer he’s nailed Anton Chigurh. If you haven’t read Cormac McCarthy’s book, treat yourself to it. It’s an easy read – much easier than his more acclaimed, but still worthwhile The Road.

T.C. Boyle. East is East. (see last week’s post). Nearing the last 30 pages.

Now you guys tell me. What's on your Playlist?


Playlist 1 -- Welcome aboard, Ryan Adams, TC Boyle, Wii, Coltrane

How do you start off your first blog?

I went to my favorite blog and started clicking the “next blog” to see what other bloggers did to start theirs. Here’s what I found, in order …

  • A Web site in Spanish that I couldn’t understand.
  • A blog that involved a “live camera” that was currently inactive, but promised some interesting “action” if you clicked to another site.
  • A Web site in another language I couldn’t understand, but the profile picture was Jesus on the Cross. (I guess it’s officially a trend if even the Savior has his own blog).
  • A Web site that stated: I’m not here to waste your time, so I'll make this brief. Having your own product to sell, is the best way to make money on the internet. But you probably already know that.
  • The Curioso blog. Again, I couldn’t understand any of the words except for these two – Paris Hilton.
  • And, finally, this.

So maybe I’m putting too much thought into this thing. So I went back to the first posting on my aforementioned favorite blog – Wild About Words and found the straightforward, conversational opening. And I stole it.

Welcome to Distractions.

Life is great, but not always easy. But these pleasant distractions we allow ourselves help to make it easier. For me, these distractions are music, books, sports, movies, TV shows, games, Web sites, etc. Part of my blog will be sharing my distractions and, hopefully, getting the four or five family members or friends who visit the site out of obligation to share theirs.

Well, I better get moving. I’m already way behind a lot of grannies and 10-year-olds who have started and abandoned their blogs while I’ve tried to figure out how to start mine.

I’ll get started with My Playlist.

Each week, I’ll list the top five distractions that have kept my attention in the past week when life wasn’t getting in the way. What do you think of these items? What’s on your “Playlist” this week?

Ryan Adams. Easy Tiger. I’ve been a big fan of Ryan, going back to his days with Whiskeytown and his first solo album Heartbreaker. Over the past couple of years, however, I’ve started to fall in line with the critics. If the prolific songwriter was a better self-editor, he’d have a handful of great classic albums instead of a dozen good ones. I skipped 29 and was about to do the same with Easy Tiger. But a friend of mine, who does not like Ryan Adams at all, kept talking it up after hearing Two on Sirius radio. So I checked it out. And it surprised me. The songwriting is excellent and his backing band the Cardinals can do it all. Yep, there are a couple clunkers. But it’s one of Ryan’s most consistent CDs. It’s folky, a little alt-country and it rocks in some places, too. Definitely one of the better CDs of this past year. Favorite tracks: Two, The Sun Also Sets, Goodnight Rose.

Free Rice. This site allows you to test and improve your vocabulary and do a small part toward ending hunger. For every correct answer you get, Free Rice donates 10 grains of rice, which is distributed by the United Nations World Food Program. Check out the site to learn more.

TC Boyle. East is East. I’m about halfway through this book, one of only three Boyle novels I haven’t finished yet. It’s a typical TC yarn. A Japanese man of mixed blood jumps off a ship off the coast of Georgia and hides from authorities on an island full of the usual TC Boyle crackpots and nitwits. Well-written and very engaging.

Madden 07 for the Wii. I thought I’d be all over my sons’ Wii Game System when we were finally able to buy it for them. But I have too little time, and as you can see, too many other distractions. But after getting soundly beaten by my younger son in Madden last weekend, I crept into our rec room when the kids went to sleep, created my own fantasy team, played a game against the New York Jets (and lost), but finally figured out how to throw the ball effectively. Look out!

John Coltrane. A Love Supreme. While I’m very confident in my knowledge and understanding of all types of rock, from classic to indie, I’m still a neophyte when it comes to jazz. I don’t know why I like what I do, but I do. Some jazz albums, like Kind of Blue, are easy first listens. A Love Supreme was not. I could always understand the musicianship behind and revel in Coltrane’s famous sheets of sound. But I didn’t always “get it.” Last week, however, I popped it in my car CD player as I drove to the gym. I was tired. I had a huge headache. And I was thinking about just skipping the workout altogether. But somehow this music picked me up. It’s been on my car CD player ever since.