July 4, 2018


Happy 4th, everybody.  Seems a good day to ask what folks are enjoying reading, watching, listening to.

I have a (roughly) two hour dog walk every day, but dropped off the hounds and kept going so I could finish this fabulous podcast in three days:


American Fiasco (WNYC Radio)

Join host Roger Bennett of Men in Blazers for this story of the U.S. men's soccer team that swaggered onto the international stage and set out to win the 1998 World Cup in France. When they arrived, they faced only one serious opponent: themselves. WNYC Studios is a listener-supported producer of other leading podcasts including Freakonomics Radio, Death, Sex & Money, On the Media and many more.

It fairly cries out to be made into a movie or miniseries, a la Damned United.

Statcast Podcast:

Statcastâ„¢ is changing the way we watch baseball, and we're only beginning to figure out how it will revolutionize the game. Mike Petriello, Matt Meyers and special guests discuss what this groundbreaking technology is teaching us.  

Be sure to follow @Statcast on Twitter for the best daily video clips featuring this new technology!

Listen to or download individual episodes below, subscribe via iTunes or use your RSS reader so you never miss a single episode.

PitcherList Podcast

Having two Rotisserie teams, I listen to CBS Fantasy Baseball Today every day, but for pure baseball enjoyment, these are the two most enjoyable analytical casts. 


Chance the Rapper : Coloring Book (Kris Ex, MAY 17 2016, Pitchfork)

When Chicagoan Chance the Rapper delivered his verse on "Ultralight Beam," the opening song from Kanye West's The Life of Pablo, there was a lot going on--sly homage was being paid to West; rappers were being put on notice ("This is my part/Nobody else speak"); and, most importantly, Chance was encapsulating his past, asserting his present, and telegraphing his future. He was finally positioning himself as a rapper to be reckoned with from a mainstream podium, but he was also delving deep into Christian ideology, with allusions to Noah's Ark and Lot's wife, with his "foot on the Devil's neck 'til it drifted Pangaea."

That verse rolled out the red carpet for Kanye's long-awaited album, but it doubled as an announcement of Chance's new Coloring Book (then given the working title Chance 3), which may very well be the most eagerly-anticipated hip-hop project this year that doesn't come attached to an actual record label. West billed his album as "a gospel album with a whole lot of cursing on it," but The Life of Pablo wasn't that; it was a rap album with some gospel overtures. Coloring Book, however, fits the billing, packing in so much gospel verve that it sounds like Hezekiah Walker & the Love Fellowship Crusade Choir are going to drop into half the tracks and recite 1 Timothy 4:12 in chorale. Instead, we get Kirk Franklin promising to lead us into the Promised Land, alongside appearances by demonstrated materialistic heathens like 2 Chainz, Lil Wayne, Young Thug, and Future--and the result is an uplifting mix that even an atheist can catch the Spirit to.

Francis and the Lights : Farewell, Starlite! (Cameron Cook, OCTOBER 6 2016, Pitchfork)

 The album's focus is, rightfully, "Friends," a collaboration with Justin Vernon of Bon Iver and Kanye West. It's a deeply affecting, mellow slice of alternative R&B, gliding along on a placid sea of finger snaps and interlocking vocal harmonies by all three artists, like some impossibly cool barbershop trio. When Starlite sings, "We could be friends/Just put your head on my shoulders," it's lusher than velvet. It sounds more like a lovesick supplication than a call for restraint. Francis and the Lights have been compared to Peter Gabriel before, but nowhere has this been more apparent as "May I Have This Dance," a song that truly could be added to a reissue of So without anyone batting an eyelid. Its subtle Afro-pop drumbeat and jubilant chorale of lyrics about reclaiming lost love are so evocative of mid-'80s art pop that it defiantly stands out as an example of the kind of diversity Farewell, Starlite! could desperately use more of.


Review: 'Bosch' and the Art of the Pure Police Procedural (Mike Hale, April 13, 2018, NY Times)

Developed for television by Eric Overmyer from novels by Michael Connelly, the show accommodates the modern serial drama's requirements for psychology and back story. Bosch's daughter and ex-wife are significant characters, and the unsolved murder of his mother (with its echoes of the Black Dahlia case) continues to haunt him in Season 4. (A fifth season has already been ordered.)

But the soul of the series is procedural crime-solving, and that's more than ever the case in the new season, which focuses on the murder of an African-American lawyer who was about to go to court with a brutality case against the Los Angeles Police Department. [...]

Anchoring it all is the deliberate, heavy quietude of Titus Welliver's performance as Bosch, communicating untold skepticism and disdain through an arched eyebrow or a downturned lip. Mr. Welliver can suggest an entire personality in the way he stares at a whiteboard or silently chooses which chair to sit in, and the show has matched him with other nonhistrionic actors like Jamie Hector (as his partner), Sarah Clarke (his former wife) and Madison Lintz (his daughter).

The unhurried pace of "Bosch" can sometimes slow to a crawl, the writing can be workmanlike and the secondary story lines involving Bosch's family or Los Angeles politics can be thin. But when it errs, it errs on the side of literalness rather than falseness, of plainness rather than pretension. The show doesn't require patience so much as relaxation. Surrender to its hard-boiled charms, and it will treat you right.

Those requirements do make the plots way too busy, combining as many as three of the novels into one series, but we've loved Harry for a quarter century now and it's nice to see someone make good use of many of the actors from The Wire. One especially nice tough in the latest cycle is the use of a tunnel setting that the novels' Harry would love.


The Cloudspotter's Guide: The Science, History, and Culture of Clouds by Gavin Pretor-Pinney  

Found the book at the Thrift Store the other day, but saw his documentary years ago and have long been a member of his Cloud Appreciation Society

The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas

It's always been a favorite, but I'm rereading after listening to an interview with a new translator on NR's great Books podcast.

Posted by at July 4, 2018 9:31 AM