After spending the weekend in Chicago for Christmas, my wife and I had a quiet New Year’s weekend. Our kid was with my ex, and we honestly did very little after a week of people people people. We played some a vintage board game (Carrier Strike – a ton of fun if you can find it), drank a fair amount of good beer, listened to music, watched a ton of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and lounged about.
I’m a panel judge for the National Book Critics Circle John Leonard Prize, so I’ve been scrambling to get the six finalists read before the deadline. This has taken up most of my reading time during December. This past week I got through Nicole Dennis-Benn’s Here Comes the Sun (Liveright, 2016) and Max Porter’s Grief Is the Thing with Feathers (Graywolf Press, 2016). I’m now in the middle of reading My Beer Year: Adventures with Hop Farmers, Craft Brewers, Chefs, Beer Sommeliers, and Fanatical Drinkers as a Beer Master in Training by Lucy Burningham (Roost Books, 2016), which I’ll be reviewing for an upcoming issue of my beer zine, Fuggles.
Last week, I watched the excellent 2015 Turkish film Mustang directed by Dinez Gamze Ergüven. The movie follows five sisters living in a restrictive and misogynistic culture in which they are given very little personal agency. The film is gorgeously shot, and deftly reveals the personality of each sister without interrupting the flow of the narrative as a whole. This is one of the best recent movies I’ve watched all year. On New Year’s Day, Melinda and I continued out annual tradition of watching Rent, a deeply felt and sorely underappreciated musical that hits us in the feels every year.
I’ve been listening to a ton of Leonard Cohen over the last few weeks, walking back through is entire catalog, album by album. There’s nothing profound in saying the man was a genius, a gift, but he was. What’s really remarkable is that there was never a drop-off. From Songs of Leonard Cohen in 1967 till You Want in Darker just weeks before his death this past year, he never lost it. His formula was simple: brilliant lyrics, a god-given voice, and simple songwriting to showcase both. That formula aged really, really well.
On New Year’s Day, I sat on the living room floor and spun old 45s for much of the afternoon, bouncing from The Shirelles to Roy Orbison to Prince to Kim Carnes. Later in the day we moved on to some LPs we’d picked up in Dayton earlier in the weekend: Heart, Culture Club, Diana Ross, Nancy Wilson, Toto, and others.
Of course, in our house, there’s always good beer in the glass. On New Year’s Eve, we worked through a three-year vertical of Unibroue’s La Fin du Monde, which felt appropriate. We rang in 2017 with a 2015 Deschutes Jubel, a wonderfully complex, strong ale that braced us for the year ahead. You’ll be able to read about both in the next issue of Fuggles.
I had a little humor piece published over at Razed this week called “Welcome to Another Episode of How Toddlers Think”.
Over at Fourth & Sycamore last week, I announced my imminent departure from Greenville Public Library and Fourth & Sycamore. At the beginning of February, I’ll be staying home and writing full-time. It’s a little scary, but I can’t wait. Here’s to a good year ahead.
The title of this weekly recap is a line taken from Leonard Cohen’s song “A Thousand Kisses Deep.”