I like to read with music playing, but it must be instrumental and relatively placid.
Over the years, I've been adding tracks to this mega Reading & Writing playlist on Spotify.
It's 45 HOURS long. I put it on shuffle and let it fly.
I've recently stumbled across similar playlists that aren't as long.
Jon Hopkins wanted to find a meditative, ambient music to share with his friends. So here's his: QUIET playlist (it's only 25 hours long).
Ben Watt has a playlist called Air Gap, which follows a similar set of rules: "ambient, beatless, suspended meditations." (~4 hours)
Now, if you don't have Spotify, you can still listen to these playlists, but they will play on shuffle and have intermittent ads. (Please correct me if I'm wrong.)
For an other meditative treat, here's 30 minutes of Studio Ghibli meditative beauty:
In other music-y realms, I've been come to building ongoing playlists for the year. Whenever I encounter a song that grabs me (usually introduced to me from the Spotify algorithm--it finds music that it thinks I may like), I dump it in a playlist for that year. And then it accompanies me on walks, road trips, Saturday. It's also a primary source for building a playlist for a game night or party or what-have-you.
These kind of playlists serve as a kind of musical commonplace book--a place to log and collect songs (and if you know anything about me, I'd say it's a pretty eclectic collection). The songs transport me to vividly specific times and places. It's like other sense memories.
My 2021 playlist is growing at quite a brisk pace. There are some fun songs on there by musicians I've never heard of (and some I have). I love it. Here's my playlists from a couple years back as well:
"I think it’s that thing of wanting to bash things apart a little bit and break through some stuff. And I needed it to sound a little radical to feel good about putting something out in the world. For me, it’s not embarrassing, but the old records are of this kind of sad nature—I was healing myself through that stuff. Being sad about something is okay. And then wallowing in it, circling though the same cycles emotionally just feels boring. For this one, there’s still some dark stuff and whatever, but I think cracking things, making things that are bombastic and exciting and also new, and mashing things together, and explosiveness and shouting more, I think that was the zone. I think shouting. Whispering was maybe the thing before. But this time--[hits his keyboard and makes a loud robot sound]"
Read more about his new album here.
Each year, the resident and touring troupes at the American Shakespeare Center gather for a benefit concert. I've been part of the past three concerts, and they're such a great time. Here are some photos taken by the lovely Lindsey Walters (who also took my headshots) at Miscellaneous Media Photography.
the INTERVAL INTERVIEWS LYNN NOTTAGE
Are there any other areas of culture that inspire your work?
Definitely. If you come to my house, it’s sort of wall to wall art, and sometimes I’ll just go into the living room and sit and look at all these fabulous things that artists over the ages have said, and feel inspired and awed and insecure and all of the things you feel when you’re in the presence of people who are quite genius artists. Whenever I begin a play, I always make a soundtrack, and that soundtrack is what I write to for the entire play. So for the beginning of Sweat, I spent like two weeks listening to music and picking songs and placing them where I wanted them in the order, and that’s what I wrote the play to. I did the same for By the Way, Meet Vera Stark and Intimate Apparel , and every play. That’s the foundation that I build from.
Do you use music that’s all from your iTunes library and songs that you know evoke certain things for you? Or do you research the music that you want to use and search for brand new things?
It’s both things. Sometimes they’re songs that are my favorites in the iTunes library, but for others, I have to go in search of them. For Sweat, because it takes place in a part of the country that I don’t live in and it’s a group of people that are very different from myself, I thought about what would they be listening to and what excites them and what are my characters’ favorite tunes, and I try and put those on my soundtrack. So some of the music may be music that’s really different than my favorites, but they’re evocative of the mood of the piece or the place where the characters are in their lives.
WEB POETS' SOCIETY: NEW BREED SUCCEEDS IN TAKING VERSE VIRAL (New York Times)
Seven years ago, Mr. Gregson, 34, was scraping by as a freelance copywriter, churning out descriptions of exercise equipment, hair products and medical imaging devices. Now, thanks to his 560,000 Instagram and Tumblr followers, he has become the literary equivalent of a unicorn: a best-selling celebrity poet.
...their appeal lies in the unpolished flavor of their verses, which often read as if they were ripped from the pages of a diary. And their poems are reaching hundreds of thousands of readers, attracting the attention of literary agents, editors and publishers, and overturning poetry’s longstanding reputation as a lofty art form with limited popular appeal.
An ice storm has invaded Murray State University (Murray, KY) where the Method in Madness tour is staying. A couple weeks ago we were on Daytona Beach! The weather wasn't all that Florida glorious at the time, but it wasn't threatening to cancel shows like it is in Murray.
Given that I'm stranded, I thought I'd share some goings-on.
For those who don't know, I'm part of the touring troupe with the American Shakespeare Center. We've got 11 actors and 1 tour manager trekking across the country with a repertory of three plays: Hamlet, Much Ado about Nothing, and Marlowe's Doctor Faustus. We've got one month left on the road before we return to Staunton, VA at the Blackfriars Playhouse. There, we'll continue the three-show rep and add David Davalos's Wittenberg to the mix.
Enough about that.
I am in love with Austin and Nashville. The food, music, and people are top-notch.
I went to the Punch Brothers concert at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. It was one of the best live music experiences of my life. I don't go to a lot of shows, so I don't have much to compare it to, but it was electrifying and effortlessly engaging. The album is on constant repeat on my wee iPod nano. The Punch Brothers offer a progressive-bluegrass-jazz-classical—oh whatever—it's not enough to label them. Listen to the music, see a show, and have your life changed.
I had a chance to see something truly weird: Thr3e Zisters by the Salvage Vanguard Theatre in Austin. It was the act of bringing zombies to Chekhov's play and smashing the whole thing with a hammer. I usually keep my theatre-going toward the more traditional, so attending some new garage band/indie theatre was a breath of fresh air. The performances were compelling and the design was wonderful. They had lights! Sound! Set! (We don't really use those things at the ASC.)
These two cities, in particular, have got me thinking more about the communities of artists across the country. One of these days (who knows when), I'll likely root down somewhere. I'm not saying it'll be one of these two (but I'm not saying it won't be either).
I'm rallying through a bunch of books. I'm reading A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons at the same time. A nerd compiled a suggested reading order for these books (they happen at the same time, but the characters featured in each are different). So now, I don't have to slog through 1000 pages before I get to a Tyrion chapter. It's gone well so far, but it's not the easiest to just pick up with our jagged touring schedule.
So when I get sick of the dragons and slaughter, I've finished The Martian by Andy Weir and Us by David Nicholls and Ten Years in the Tub by Nick Hornby.
The Martian is about astronaut Mark Watney who is stranded on Mars. His crew thought he was dead. They left him behind. They were wrong. So, he uses his science genius to survive until some help arrives. Will he make it? The book is dense with chemistry/weather/math—stuff that actors tend to avoid. But I was able to track most of it it. He comes with some really close calls. It was genuinely thrilling at times. There's strangely not a lot of heart or emotional density.
Us packs a more emotional punch while blending in some hilarious bits. Douglas plans a European art tour with his wife and troubled son. His wife wants to separate, so he uses this holiday to bring the family closer. Disaster ensues. I enjoyed the locales (London, Paris, Amsterdam, Spain) and the voice of a pretty neurotic biologist. He manages to screw up a lot of his relationships, but it's great to get inside of his head. You understand why things happen, which I think is important for many stories (if not all).
Ten Years in the Tub is Hornby's collection of every column he wrote for The Believer. Every month (well...not every month) he wrote a list of the books he bought and the books he read (ten years' worth). Hornby's enthusiasm for reading is infectious. He's witty and has some incredibly odd reading habits. You could say this post is a riff on that.
We have a few weeks left on the tour. Let's see if the country thaws out by then.
News, updates, quotes, and other miscellany.
Books Read 2020
Books Read 2019
Books Read 2018
Books Read 2017
Books Read 2016
Books Read 2015
Movies Watched 2020
Movies Watched 2019
Movies Watched 2018
Movies Watched 2017
Movies Watched 2016
Movies Watched 2015