Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Weekly Recommendations, Week 52: Awkward Botany

Mission accomplished. One recommendation (or unrecommendation as the case may be) posted every week for a full year. 52 posts in all. And you thought that it couldn’t be done. Actually, you probably didn’t have an opinion on the matter one way or another. I had my doubts, though…but sometimes I surprise myself.

So now, as the year comes to a close (and the world didn’t end), I have decided that I will turn my focus away from this blog and towards something new. Certainly I will continue to post here, and I actually have some ideas for some future posts; however, most of my blogging efforts will be focused on my new blog, Awkward Botany. It’s something that I came up with several months ago, but have yet to do anything with. It combines my awkward geekiness with my love of plants. While it is not yet clear exactly what shape it will take, I am excited to get started on it so that I can watch it grow and evolve. A quick brainstorming session yields this list of topic ideas for posts: the evolution/biology/ecology of plants, rare and endangered plants, the wonders of plants, my favorite plants, tips on growing and caring for plants, places to go to see plants, the benefits of plants, plants in the news, etc. I promise it will be interesting, particularly if you like plants, but even if you are not overly excited about plants, I hope that it will still be appealing to you in some way.

I'm not sure exactly when you should expect posting to begin on Awkward Botany, but hopefully it will happen soon, so check back often. In the meantime, say goodbye to 2012 and hello to 2013. Let’s hope it’s a good one…because for heaven's sake, we all really need it.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Weekly Recommendation, Week 51: Digestate

Food and eating is central to our lives, so when 55 comic artists are asked to make a comic about it, it's pretty much a guarantee that they'll have something to contribute. Digestate: A Food and Eating Themed Anthology, published by Birdcage Bottom Books, is the result of such a request, and the comics included are as diverse as the comic artists themselves. Many of the comics have to do with the eating habits of the artists including whether they are meat eaters or vegetarians and why. Some of them are quite serious, pointing out the harsh realities of meat production and factory farming or discussing the reasons why an artist chooses to eat the way they do. Also included are comics that are humorous, endearing, vulgar, or gruesome...or a combination thereof. Some of the comics are based in fact, while others are pure fiction. With so many artists contributing, not all of the contributions are going to be winners, although everyone will have their own likes and dislikes, and so certainly there is something here for everybody. I enjoyed reading the majority of the comics in this book, but the real standout for me was Marek Bennett's "Successful Slaughter!", in which Marek recounts an experience he had in Slovakia making something called "slaughter" with a local family and being served more vodka than he could handle in the process. Another highlight for me was reading the mini-bios of all the artists which included their feeding habits (carnivore, guilt-laden omnivore, pretzel enthusiast, eater of tacos, etc.) Overall, this is a very interesting and entertaining book, and one that I will certainly read through again due to the numerous comic gems that are included.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Weekly Recommendations, Week 50: Hey Ho Let's Go: The Story of the Ramones

The Ramones were the greatest rock 'n roll band to have ever existed. Their legacy is incredibly far-reaching, and yet, at the same time, so under-appreciated, understated, and misunderstood. While they never had a hit record and never got much radio play during their 22 year career, their influence can be felt in modern music, spanning multiple genres, like no other band yet, and will continue to present itself indefinitely. They invented punk rock, even if it was mostly unintentional and even though that fact has been disputed and they have never really received the credit and respect that they so rightfully deserve for such a feat. From Johnny's unique and inimitable style of guitar playing to Joey's infectious and unmistakable crooning, the Ramones find themselves secure at the top of a list of bands that are a force to be reckoned with. Their blistering live sets alone cannot be topped, although many have and will continue to try. Everett True's biography of the band, Hey Ho Let's Go: The Story of the Ramones, is a revealing and intimate tale of an extremely hard-working, passionate, relentless, and even highly dysfunctional band of "brothers." Hell-bent on achieving the success, notoriety, and respect they were certain that they deserved but were continually denied, they were driven to proceed, determined that it would finally be awarded, despite the fact that they should have broken up dozens of times along the way (or at least they would have had they not been so stubborn and dedicated to their cause). Even as a long time Ramones fan, I realized, upon reading this book, how little I really knew about the band including the personalities and backgrounds of the various members, their unquestionable influence, their motivations and visions for the group and their music, and all the struggles, battles, and heartaches they faced along the way. This book is incredibly revealing and is written in a very approachable way, allowing the reader to become deeply involved in the lives of the Ramones family. Everett True is oftentimes very subjective and opinionated as a writer, but I appreciated and enjoyed his commentary, especially considering how close he had been with the band throughout the years. True has compiled an incredible resource for immersing oneself in the Ramones world, offering countless interviews and first hand reports and deriving information from an impressive amount of reputable sources. There is so much content in this book that one read is not going to be enough, especially for fans like me, so I'm certain that I will be referring to it for a long time to come. If you have any interest in the Ramones at all, this is an ideal starting place, and even if you're not a fan of the band or their music, their story is extremely fascinating and will provide great entertainment for anyone interested in the human experience.    

Monday, December 03, 2012

Weekly Recommendations, Week 49: Acrylic Sky

I am a huge fan of my dad's artwork, so a few months ago I helped him set up a website/blog so that more people could have the opportunity to appreciate (and eventually purchase) his work. I have yet to do much with the site, but hopefully that will change soon as I find more time to work on it. Either way, I encourage you to take a look at what we've got so far and then check back often for future (and hopefully regular) updates.
My dad produces nature scenes using ink and acrylic paint and collectively calls his work, Acrylic Sky. He describes his images as typical Idaho landscapes, however the majority of his pieces are not depictions of specific sites or scenes, but rather are simply creations of his imagination. A few examples can be seen on the blog with more to come soon. So, please check it out and leave a comment to let him know what you think.