Playing Ben Rector with a busted finger –
Another year has come and gone. Here are a few of my favorite things in 2018.
Pizzeria Limone. I’m usually the only male there and they have the worst background music ever, but their Caprese Pizza is really amazing. Here’s my TripAdvisor review.
Chocolate Cruesli is still the clear winner and will be for the foreseeable future.
Some concerts I enjoyed in 2018 were Brandi Carlile, I’m With Her, The Milk Carton Kids, Gregory Alan Isakov, Josh Ritter, Good Old War (twice), and Gabe Dixon.
For my favorite song of 2018, I’m going to go with Tremble by Oh Jeremiah.
Older stuff that was in frequent rotation in 2018 includes:
- John Mayer – more popular than I usually go for, but he’s really an amazing songwriter. As he ages he gets more Bob Dylan to me. Try Walt Grace’s Submarine Test, January 1967, which is just great storytelling.
- Guster – I missed out on them when they were medium big in the 90s. They have a lot of great songs. Try Careful or Ramona.
- Ben Rector – another good songwriter. Favorite from his latest album is Extraordinary Magic.
- Randy Newman – another late discovery for me. Favorite tune might be Birmingham.
- Jump, Little Children – Winston-Salem band. Love Mexico and several other songs. They did an independent release last year that’s pretty good.
- Regina Spektor – way out of my usual style, but she speaks to my inner emo. It’s all I listen to on long flights. Her voice takes a little getting used to. I love Firewood and Obsolete.
I had to check Goodreads to remind myself what I read. It took me most of the year to read Albert Camus’ The Stranger in the original French (L’Étranger), which I’ve been meaning to do ever since I discovered The Cure.
The book that impacted me the most was The Book Thief by Markus Zuzak. I listened to the audiobook after visiting the Documentation Center and Nazi Party Rally Grounds in Nuremberg and before returning to the Anne Frank house in Amsterdam. I’m about halfway through The Diary of Anne Frank, which is (of course) excellent.
Another great read was The Road by Cormac McCarthy. That story has bounced around in my head for months afterwards.
All the books that got 5 stars from me in 2018 were:
|An Introduction to the Book of Abraham||John Laurence Gee|
|Triggers: Creating Behavior That Lasts‚ Becoming the Person You Want to Be||Marshall Goldsmith|
|The Most Dangerous Game||Richard Connell|
|The Book Thief||Markus Zusak|
|The Road||Cormac McCarthy|
|Passage by Faith: Exploring the Inspirational Art of James C. Christensen||James C. Christensen|
|Ender’s Shadow (The Shadow Series, #1)||Orson Scott Card|
|Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain||John J. Ratey|
|The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism||Timothy J. Keller|
|Ready Player One||Ernest Cline|
|Understanding Temple Symbols Through Scripture, History, and Art||Jack M. Lyon|
|Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder||Nassim Nicholas Taleb|
|Why Bob Dylan Matters||Richard F. Thomas|
|Boys Adrift: The Five Factors Driving the Growing Epidemic of Unmotivated Boys and Underachieving Young Men||Leonard Sax|
|Make Peace with Your Mind: How Mindfulness and Compassion Can Free You from Your Inner Critic||Mark Coleman|
2018 was the year I fully abandoned Facebook and Instagram. I had to fill the void with something, so I turned to Reddit. I like it for its ability to keep you up to date on memes and cat videos without all the human drama and overvalued opinions of Facebook. If you live in Utah you need to set up an account and pick some subreddits that interest you so you can see beyond the default top posts of your state, which are almost exclusively anti-Mormon rants.
I saw some fun places in 2018. It was my first time in Germany, Austria, and the Czech Republic. I guess the highlight was the Vienna Cemetery.
Yousician is good fun. I’m learning to play the bass. Screen Time says I spend the most time on Fallout Shelter (after taking a break for a couple of years), DomiNations, and Netflix.
The one I’ve thought about the most is Dealt. I watched it on a flight when I was taking a break from Chinese movies and I can’t stop thinking about it. Life is unfair and that’s part of its beauty.
British Panel Show
2018 is the year I discovered Would I Lie To You where British celebrities try to speak convincingly of a personal story that may or may not be true. I think I’m caught up on all seasons. My favorite participants are James Acaster, Bob Mortimer, Greg Davies, and the longtime team captains David Mitchell and Lee Mack. It’s hard to say what my favorite clip is, but try this:
My all-time favorites are Nate Bargatze, Jim Gaffigan, and Brian Regan. Dry Bar Comedy has some great clips on YouTube, although they can be hit or miss. Try Heath Harmison’s story about his arch-nemesis Meredith:
Vienna is a cool place for fans of music and cemeteries. On our bike tour we saw monuments to Johann Strauss, Franz Schubert, Beethoven, Brahms, and Bruckner –
The Vienna Central Cemetery (Wiener Zentralfriedhof) is a few miles out of town, a quick Uber ride away if you don’t want to figure out the buses. If you can decipher the map or just wander around long enough you’ll find Group 32A, final resting place of Ludwig Van Beethoven, Johannes Brahms, Franz Schubert, and Johann Strauss.
There’s also a monument to Mozart (who died in 1791 and was buried in a pauper’s grave in the St. Marx Communal Cemetery).
While you’re at it, you can find modern composer Arnold Schönberg (Group 32C), Mozart’s rival (in the movie Amadeus if not in real life) Antonio Salieri (grave 54 along the outer wall of the cemetery), and a nice little honorary grave to Austrian musician Heinz Neubrand.
Also, remember the weird 80s hit Rock Me Amadeus by Falco? His real name was Hans Hölzel and he was buried in the Vienna Central Cemetery after he died in a car crash in 1998 (grave 64 in Group 40).
All over town you will see Mozart chocolates (Mozartkugel) for sale. You almost can’t help buying a few but please try to resist. They are filled with pistachio marzipan, which tastes like powdered bones.
Instead, spend your hard-earned euros on the most amazing gummy candies you’ll ever try, at Bärenland –
Favorite flavor: Rote Grütze.
An old, old folk song – first recorded in 1909. Covered by the likes of Pete Seeger, Bob Dylan, and Jeff Buckley over the years. My favorite version is from the soundtrack of Inside Llewyn Davis (which I haven’t seen) – beautiful harmonies by Oscar Isaac and Marcus Mumford. Here’s my attempt at beautiful harmonies by me and me.
This was supposed to be for our stake’s Easter Cantata, but a family funeral changed our plans. Here it is for YouTube. Happy Easter!