Friday, December 31, 2010


Hello, creative folks and friends:

Once again my top five of 2010 for books, movies, and music.



War- Sebastian Junger- the documentary RESTREPO by the same folks is good, but much much more detail and context is in the book. I recommend reading it then watching the movie to get the full effect of a year spent deployed in the most dangerous place on earth, the Korengal Valley in Afghanistan.

Bear V. Shark- Chris Bachelder. An amazingly insightful satire. Almost every page and line therein is like flipping a channel. A tad cold by its nature, but you’ll finding yourself nodding in agreement and recognition. Will cure your satirical urges. But the next book you’ll read, you’ll want a pure story. Like Savages.

Savages - Don Winslow. Knew nothing about his previous work before reading it. Hell thought he was a first time author. A thriller stripped to the bone and told with an unapologetic FU smart ass attitude. You'll either dismiss it or strap in. But there's a page turner here with cool characters and a sprinkling of politics, smarts, and yes, even some poetry and recklessness. Unapologetically loved it. Loved it. Loved it. Marketed as a thriller and thats true, but like any good story it's really a love story. (Just finished it this week. Days later it's still sticking with me.)

Day by Day Armageddon/Beyond Exile- J.L. Bourne. Two books in a trilogy (third not out) It's zombie fiction written by an active duty soldier. Very smart and knowledgeable with plenty of military insight. A very small story that continues to grow in scope. The first book was fun, but sort of just stops. The second picks up immediately after and the author really finds his stride with this one. Hell of a hook at the end of this one

Miracle Boy and Other Stories- Pinckney Benedict. I hear this guy is crazy and so are his stories. I’ve been savoring this book, dipping into it occasionally like a fine scotch. Unpredictable, but accessible. He’s a helluva mentor as well.


The Things They Carried – Tim O’Brien – when I want to see what good clean writing that packs a wallop in nice short bursts looks like I go to this book. I’ve almost gotten over the feeling that it makes me think I'm a hack. Given away almost as many copies of this as I have of Fight Club. The only reason it's on the HM list is because this was a reread.

Chuck Klosterman IV- Chuck Klosterman - The Greatest Hits essays of the last ten years. Steeped in pop culture and sharp observations and insights. The author has revised many of these and added some footnotes graced with the passage of time since the initial publication.

Rock N Roll Will Save Your Life- Steve Almond – For music lovers. He gets it. Gets why we get it and if you don’t feel music is as important as breathing, then you and I have nothing to say.

Movies:Okay, haven’t seen a ton, but these are movies though maybe not technically the best or critically acclaimed, either surprised me or made me laugh or engaged me in a way that I was not expecting.

Big Lebowski (Fest) – If you dig the Dude, there is nothing like drinking a few White Russians in the theatre with a few hundred fans screaming lines or adlibbing along. A BLAST!

The Expendables – More fun than the cold, joyless Inception. As a child of the 80’s it was comfort food. A good fun time with no expectations. I enjoyed myself.

The Square – Wow. What a great stripped to the bone thriller. Highly recommend for noir fans. Holy Shit. Netflix it.

The Ghost Writer – I love a movie that I can simultaneously enjoy, respect, admire, mock and be surprised by.

George Washington – Gem of a movie. Honest, compelling and heartbreaking. David Gordon Green's debut, and I would say best.

Inglorious Basterds – Very rewatchable. Was surprised how much I liked it.
Scott Pilgrim V. the World – Had a blast. Great music.
Get Him to the Greek – Made me laugh when I needed a few.

Best Live Music Show:
Dandy Warhols – How is this band not bigger in the States? Great seats, great music. They softened some songs up, rocked up some more, but kept it all cool. I have a daisy on my left toe…
Justin Townes Earle - The single greatest music moment of the year for me. JTE laying his acoustic guitar down and doing Randy Newman’s Louisiana 1927. Punctuated by the occasional footstomp. You could hear a pin drop. Was like going to church should be like. Soulful and transcendental. Haunting. And sorrowfully fleeting. I live for these moments that make me feel we're more than a bag of meat and bones. (John Boutte's 2007 live version is a soul cousin to the JTE version, but still not the same.)

The Giving Tree - A bunch of young Illinois boys with several acoustic guitars, upright bass, banjos etc. A rollicking mix of folk, bluegrass, Americana, roots rock and just sheer fun. Thanks to Fitzgeralds for yet another great showcase.

Ray Price – Dancing with Carrie Hill while old school country legend Ray Price sang Crazy Arms at my favorite Juke Joint in Texas. It don’t get much better. Ever.

HM or tied for 5th:Del Moraccos
Modern Sounds
Concrete Blonde
Patty Griffin
Willie Nelson

Best TV Show:
Californication – 3rd Season not as strong as 1 and especially 2. But a few episodes made it worth it.

Breaking Bad – holy shit.

Sons of Anarchy – Shakespearian in scope. The politics and secrets keep it humming. The action, though, is somewhat pedestrian, so they use it sparingly. Every character has something going on and growth, which is nice. Both good guys and bad guys and that label changes frequently.

Walking Dead - Downloaded but not watched. Zombies and Darabont, so I give this one a free ride.

Community - Thank you for filling the void left from Arrested Development.

Happy 2011, y'all.