Reading List (of things that aren’t books and mostly can’t be read)

I wish I could write an excellent reading list every week but recently I haven’t been reading the best stuff. So here are other bits of cultural content to be gobbled up in between healthy doses of booky goodness.

George Strait Strait Country – The songs on this album are too reasonable and come from too rational a position to be written by any musician I know. Much less a young country mega-star in the making. It’s not just unpretentious it’s a better reflection of how relationships really are. Most of us aren’t trapped in the closet of another man’s bedroom.  A much more common situation is one of the two partners wants to go out on a Friday night while the other one wants to stay home. He’s not trying to be a wild-eyed rambler, he’s just trying to keep himself and his wife happy.

Idea Channel – This PBS YouTube channel embodies all the best parts of nerdiness. Idea Channel brings a thoughtfulness that only a truly committed fan can employ in a discussion of cartoon dogs. It’s intelligent about things we might usually be stupid about. Best of all it’s funny enough and accessible enough to make those discussions engaging.Fiona Staples

Saga – This is the prettiest, strangest take on Romeo and Juliet I have ever read.  In this comic book, the Capulets have horns and the Montiques have wings, and in the midst of their interstellar war a baby is born with one parent from either side. Brian K Vaughn who writes the story has written a lot of critically acclaimed comic books and some episodes of the show Lost, he’s funny, and he keeps the story humming along. Fiona Staples was a relative newcomer to comics when the series started, she is now a star. Her characters have expressive faces, and her worlds are strange and pretty when they’re not gross.  This book is pretty.  Did I say that already, just the color of the covers make the comic books lovely to have in your hand.

Also, there’s a great talking-cat sidekick.  If you like sidekicks or talking cats, you should pick this up.

Manhattan Projects Volume 1 – This is the first collection of the ambitious and twisted stories of the imagined rivalries and conspiracies of history’s greatest geniuses. It’s scary and well put together and the story is big, big.  The second volume has actually come out already, but I think it may be starting to come off the rails. With luck, the third volume can make me look like an idiot for ever doubting. But for now I say, read the first book, if you like it enough you can try the subsequent chapters (some people even like Children of Dune).

The Economist Videos – If you like to keep up with world events, but hate to read (how did you find this blog?), you may enjoy these free videos from the Economist. They cover a wide swath of material, from current fiction to upcoming elections. Also, you get to see the crazy facial hair that dudes who edit the Economist rock.  I can just see these weird mutton chop dudes grilling the titans of commerce on their plans and policies.

Vi Hart – These are the personal and fascinating musings of a math genius who hates math class.  For instance, a strange and divergent discussion of Fibonacci numbers and what they have to do with the asymmetry of pineapples and the inaccuracies of Sponge Bob Square Pants. Vi makes videos that cover the parts of math I never even got next to in the course of an education that only the privileged classes get a crack at. And that makes it fascinating.  It’s not easy stuff but it’s beguiling enough that it pulls in your attention. Vi Hart exemplifies the best aspects of the medium of YouTube and that is the ability to communicate, unencumbered by collaborators or expense.

Adventure TimeAdventure Time – Sweet, silly and short. This is the kind of show where they periodically change the genders of the principle characters.  What? That’s not a kind of show. Shows don’t do that. Oh, I guess that means Adventure Time is the Bee’s Knees.

Craphound – Cory Doctrow is good at talking and thinking.  The last reading list had one of his books on it. He gives talks a lot and I never get to go to them, but most of them end up as podcasts on his excellent blog 


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