Unfortunately, the past few months I’ve fallen behind on my reading for various and sundry reasons. To make up for it, I’m including brief reviews of other things I’ve been reading, listening, and watching.

Book #9: Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons

March April May Reads

I’ve always wanted to read a graphic novel, but I hadn’t until I read this one. Watchmen especially intrigued me, since it’s the only graphic novel that made TIME magazine’s list of the 100 best novels of the past century.

And for good reason: it’s the most dark and psychologically complex “superhero” story I’ve ever read. Definitely NOT kosher for young ‘uns, but if you’re interested in the medium it’s a good place to start.

 

Book #10: Confessions by St. Augustine

March April May ReadsI’m not going to lie: This one was a bit of a slog for me. Partly because of the language and philosophical ramblings, partly because I became infatuated with several high-quality TV shows (looking at you, Westworld). Plenty of incredible nuggets of wisdom, but most of it felt a little like eating my vegetables.

Still, in my opinion, few people have ever loved God the way this man did. And even fewer have written about their struggles with sexual sin with such honesty, clarity, and power. I’m still very much a believer in reading old books, but just remember: these aren’t breezy beach reads.

Here are a few highlights:

“You made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.”

“I was astonished that although I now loved you . . . I did not persist in enjoyment of my God. Your beauty drew me to you, but soon I was dragged away from you by my own weight and in dismay I plunged again into the things of this world . . . as though I had sensed the fragrance of the fare but was not yet able to eat it.”

“O Lord, my Helper and my Redeemer, I shall now tell and confess to the glory of your name how you released me from the fetters of lust which held me so tightly shackled and from my slavery to the things of this world.”

“Give me the grace [O Lord] to do as you command, and command me to do what you will! . . . O holy God . . . when your commands are obeyed, it is from you that we receive the power to obey them.”

“How sweet all at once it was for me to be rid of those fruitless joys which I had once feared to lose . . ! You drove them from me, you who are the true, the sovereign joy. You drove them from me and took their place. . . . O Lord my God, my Light, my Wealth, and my Salvation.”

“But what do I love when I love my God? . . . Not the sweet melody of harmony and song; not the fragrance of flowers, perfumes, and spices; not manna or honey; not limbs such as the body delights to embrace. It is not these that I love when I love my God. And yet, when I love him, it is true that I love a light of a certain kind, a voice, a perfume, a food, an embrace; but they are of the kind that I love in my inner self, when my soul is bathed in light that is not bound by space; when it listens to sound that never dies away; when it breathes fragrance that is not borne away on the wind; when it tastes food that is never consumed by the eating; when it clings to an embrace from which it is not severed by fulfillment of desire. This is what I love when I love my God.”

“Give yourself to me, my God; I show you my love, but if it is too little, give me strength to love you more.”

“Give me a man in love: he knows what I mean. Give me one who yearns; give me one who is hungry; give me one far away in this desert, who is thirsty and sighs for the spring of the Eternal country. Give me that sort of man: he knows what I mean. But if I speak to a cold man, he just does not know what I am talking about…”

If you’re more interested in the Cliff Notes version of Augustine, I would suggest reading or listen to “The Swan is Not Silent: Sovereign Joy in the Life and Thought of St. Augustine” by John Piper. It’s the best summary of Confessions I’ve seen.

New Favorite Podcast: Song Exploder

I was recently introduced to Song Exploder by a friend here in Atlanta. Since then, I’ve probably listened to almost 30 episodes of this podcast. (They’re only about 15 minutes long, so you can crank through them pretty easily.) In case you’ve never heard of it:

Song Exploder is a podcast where musicians take apart their songs, and piece by piece, tell the story of how they were made. Each episode is produced and edited by host and creator Hrishikesh Hirway in Los Angeles. Using the isolated, individual tracks from a recording, Hrishikesh asks artists to delve into the specific decisions that went into creating their work. Hrishikesh edits the interviews, removing his side of the conversation and condensing the story to be tightly focused on how the artists brought their songs to life.”

Some of my favorite episodes:

Dirty Projectors, The Lumineers, Peter Bjorn and John, Chvrches, Andrew Bird, Youth Lagoon, Wilco, Best Coast, Slyvan Esso, The National, RAC, Tycho, and surprisingly, Carly Rae Jepson

We Started a Podcast! Super Meta

It’s true. Some friends and I started a podcast all about podcasts, and it’s called Super Meta. Get it?

We’ve had a lot of fun recording it so far. Each episode starts off with Taylor, Chris, and I sharing our #HotPod of the week (our favorite podcast episode from the previous week), then transitions into a deep dive of a particular podcast.

So far we’ve reviewed NPR’s How I Built This and Malcolm Gladwell’s Revisionist History. Coming soon: deep dives covering Missing Richard Simmons and the ineffable S* Town.

TV Show: Westworld

westworldThere’s a lot that could be said about HBO’s Westworld. But suffice it to say this: the show (imagine Jurassic Park meets I, Robot) is one of the best I’ve seen in a while.

In case you’ve never heard of it:

“Westworld isn’t your typical amusement park. Intended for rich vacationers, the futuristic park — which is looked after by robotic “hosts” — allows its visitors to live out their fantasies through artificial consciousness. “Westworld” — which is based on the 1973 Michael Crichton movie of the same name — features an all-star cast that includes Oscar winner Anthony Hopkins and Golden Globe winner Ed Harris.”

It should come as no surprise then, to learn that the show was created and written by Jonathan Nolan and his wife, Lisa Joy. Nolan is, of course, the brother of director and filmmaker Christopher Nolan. Together the Nolan brothers have written and created some of the best films of the past decade (and some of my all-time favorites): Memento, The Prestige, Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises, Inception, and Interstellar.

Which all explains why Westworld is so good—it feels like a 10-hour long Nolan film, rife with twists, turns, and mind-bending storylines. The show also explores some very compelling and relevant themes: namely, the morality of artificial intelligence.

But beware: things are not always as they seem.

For a cool, interactive experience, check out the theme park’s website.