The provisional squads for World Cup 2014 have been announced, and there are some notable absentees. Not surprisingly, it’s the best nations that can afford to leave behind high-profile players oozing with both quality and pedigree. Featuring Carlos Tevez, Isco, and Ashley Cole, this admittedly unbalanced and potentially volatile side would surely qualify from the group stage, and has enough goals throughout to worry any defense.
Rafael da Silva Eric Abidal Alvaro Arbeloa Ashley Cole
Javier Pastore Philippe Coutinho Isco Samir Nasri
I recently had a chance to visit the Clinton presidential library in Little Rock, Arkansas. A platinum LEED building, it’s certainly worth the tour if you should ever find yourself in town. Out of curiosity, I plotted all of the presidential libraries on a Google Geochart, which illustrates how heavily they’re clustered in the eastern half of the United States.
There was a time when I spent considerable energy seeking out great new music. The nearly simultaneous rise of algorithm-based advertising and MP3 blogs made for a powerful workflow. I would set aside hours plugging in bands and albums, listening to a few songs or a few seconds of Amazon’s recommendations, and have a fistful of great discoveries at the end. There were plenty of misses, but enough hits to make it all worthwhile.
In the age of algorithm-based internet radio, it’s even easier to find unknown gems. Somewhat paradoxically, it also makes it easier to learn about older music, tracing sounds back through influences of influences. Most of my favorites now are at least a few years old, and I’ve lost much interest in keeping up with new releases. Still, there’s something appealing about a year-end list, and here are six albums from 2013 that I loved.
The National – Trouble Will Find Me
Phoenix – Bankrupt
Lucius – Wildewoman
Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires of the City
Laura Marling – Once I Was an Eagle
Various – ‘Inside Llewyn Davis’ Soundtrack
My book club has met each month for over three years. Though it started in February of 2010, I only became a member after moving to the District of Columbia in 2011. Since then, we’ve read: A Good Man is Hard to Find by Flannery O’Connor After Rain by William Trevor Sons and Other Flammable Objects by Porochista Khakpour 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne Something I’ve Been Meaning to Tell You by Alice Munro All Aunt Hagar’s Children by Edward P. Jones The Art of Choosing by Sheena Iyengar Waiting by Ha Jin A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan Dream City: Race, Power, and the Decline of Washington, D.C. by Harry S. Jaffe and Tom Sherwood The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes The Fault in Our Stars by John Green What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank by Nathan Englander Blue Nights by Joan Didion Swamplandia! by Karen Russell Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self by Danielle Evans This is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter Tenth of December by George Saunders The Boy Kings of Texas by Domingo Martinez The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson May We Be Forgiven by A.M. Homes The Manhattan Transfer by John dos Passos The Round House by Louise Erdrich The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri These books account for the vast majority of my reading, given my other projects and ways I choose to spend my free time. As a group, we tend to pick a lot of contemporary, literary fiction novels, though I’ve advocated successfully for short story collections, older classics, and non-fiction. Judging by the lukewarm response to 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, I’m not sure everyone appreciates those deviations. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed gathering to share perspectives on what we read. Though the group is mostly female and, aside from me, all current or former teachers, opinions and insights are varied and the discussions are intellectually stimulating. Moreover, the book club has introduced me to fabulous authors like David Mitchell and George Saunders. Our meetings remain among the most anticipated items on my calendar.
There is so much great new music these days from the likes of Lucius, The National and Phoenix. With the cooler weather and changing colors, it’s also a fine time to revisit some older stuff that still stands up. Here are nine songs I’ve been listening to these lately, and I hope you enjoy them, too.
- Lucius – Tempest
- Townes Van Zandt – When She Doesn’t Need Me
- Iron & Wine – Freedom Hangs Like Heaven
- The Strokes – Under the Cover of Darkness
- Phoenix – Entertainment
- Felice Brothers – Whiskey in My Whiskey
- Delta Spirit – The Flood
- The Rosewood Thieves – Honey, Stay Awhile
- The National – Humiliation