Tuesday, May 14, 2024

Electrical Audio Studios in Chicago
Electrical Audio Studios in Chicago

Greetings Starfighters,

I’m in a weird place as I write this today during the last week of school. The students are in a mad dash to finish everything, with the campus abuzz with field trips, award ceremonies, and the ever-present dread of some disruptive fire alarm going off just to upset the last few days or hours. I mentioned a fire drill since that’s how the last day of my first year of teaching ended. A freshman pulled the fire alarm right as the final bell rang, which made dismissal quite interesting; the high school parking lot was filled with fire trucks, and you had to wonder what the kid was trying to achieve. Everyone was already leaving; the timing was totally off.

As I plan for next year and prepare for my own doctoral work over the summer (yes, I see you, summer classes, and prospectus revision), I’m also thinking about the nuts and bolts of classroom instruction. How can we make small changes in our daily work to transform school from a place students have to be to a place they want to be?

I’ve been immersed in several pieces on music production recently. Had I stayed in the music world, I might have moved into producing.

Remind me to tell you about my musical journeys someday; there are some very good memories and some very, very bad ones.

When you’re recording, everything can affect your mix, including seemingly trivial things like the material of the walls and the amount of air in the space. Trust me, these details matter — just as the lighting and smell of your classroom matter. I’m on this train of thought because Steve Albini, one of the great punk rock producers, passed away recently. I’m thinking about Steve because, like me, he was an extraordinary dork and a feisty curmudgeon.

As much as he loved making music, he hated and questioned much about the music industry. “Surfer Rosa” is arguably one of the greatest rock albums ever, and he hated it, claiming the Pixies were, at best, a mildly entertaining college rock band. And don’t ask him about Steely Dan — just don’t.

Steve wanted to record the music and artists simply and honestly, including the mistakes. “I like to leave room for accidents or chaos,” he wrote to Nirvana when they attempted to hire him to produce the follow-up to “Nevermind.” This mindset is very much like the concerns of a teacher planning engaging learning experiences. Like a teacher, Steve wasn’t in it for the money. He told Nirvana he wanted to be paid like a plumber — doing a good job and getting paid for it — and had no interest in ongoing royalties. (Note: he still made way more than teachers, but hey, it’s the thought that counts.)

I will blame this random train of thought connecting music and school on my end-of-the-year reflection and nostalgia. What I work for every day is implementing simple shifts in our classrooms to make learning more meaningful for kids. It’s one of the reasons I like tools like the 4 Shifts Protocol; it helps facilitate those changes.

You can do all the professional development and coaching cycles in the world with teachers, give them access to every digital platform and tool, and send them to the most prestigious schools and conferences. But until you actually change the focus and intent of what you do in the classroom — from achieving some arbitrary learning goal to ensuring kids know how to choose a life path that works for them and developing those skills — we are always wasting our time, money, and effort.

As Steve said, nobody on Earth could make the Smashing Pumpkins sound like the Beatles. You’re never going to change schools until you change schools. The rest is just bonus points.

Quote of the Day

Sometimes we don’t need advice. Sometimes we just need to hear we’re not the only one.

“Sometimes we don’t need advice. Sometimes we just need to hear we’re not the only one.” (Matthew McConaughey, Greenlights)

Musical Interlude

You were right if you thought you’d get a Pixies performance today. Here’s “Where is My Mind?” from Glastonbury 2014.

Long Read of the Day

Producers and engineers who use meaningless words to make their clients think they know what’s going on. Words like “Punchy,” “Warm,” “Groove,” “Vibe,” “Feel.” Especially “Punchy” and “Warm.” Every time I hear those words, I want to throttle somebody.

I figured I’d just include a link to Steve Albini’s “The Problem with Music” from 1993 here. It’s a great read and you’ll likely draw some parallels to education.

Video of the Day

While we’re at it, why don’t we take a tour of Steve Albini’s Electrical Audio studio in Chicago? I mean… why not? At about 6:35, you get to see the vent they cut in the floor to combine the air mass of the studio with the room below…

Final Thoughts

School ends on Friday. I wonder how nutty the rest of this week’s newsletters will be…


Thanks for taking the time to read this post. If you’ve enjoyed the insights and stories, consider showing your support by subscribing to my weekly newsletter. It’s a great way to stay updated and dive deeper into my content. Alternatively, if you love audiobooks or want to try them, click here to start your free trial with Audible. Your support in any form means the world to me and helps keep this blog thriving. Looking forward to connecting with you more!

Tuesday, May 7, 2024

allergies
Photo by freestocks on Unsplash

That’s just the way it is…

Greetings Starfighters,

Living in the Southern United States during the months of April and May is, to be quite honest, one of the most ill-informed choices a human being can make, especially for those of us suffering from seasonal allergies.

I mean, when you can wash your car and come back out to it a few hours later to be greeted by a powdery covering of yellowish-green stuff that is often a little sticky and definitely irritating, you know that you’ve made poor life choices.

But that same yellowish-green stuff is the sign of life returning to the world. My grass is the greenest of greens right now, thanks to more than enough rain and the nearly perfect fertile ground that covers much of Kentucky. I love looking at the world around me, but OH MY GOD, CAN WE GET SOME SUPER-SIZED AIR FILTERS FOR ALL THE POLLEN?

Ah well, such is the life of a Kentucky boy. All allergies and longing for time spent in the woods. Time for more nasal spray…

Quote of the Day

"The world only cares about—and pays off on—what you can do with what you know (and it doesn’t care how you learned it)." (George Couros, The Innovator's Mindset)

“The world only cares about—and pays off on—what you can do with what you know (and it doesn’t care how you learned it).” (George Couros, The Innovator’s Mindset)

Musical Interlude

It’s September 1986, and I’m just nine years old. My summer had been absolutely destroyed by two things: my family moved from Campbellsville, KY, to Elizabethtown, KY (there’s a movie about this place that is great, but not because they portrayed E-town properly), and Optimus Prime died in the Transformers movie.

Even now, it’s difficult to say which event was more traumatic.

Regardless, this song hit the radio waves, whether it was Q104 in Campbellsville or WQXE in E-town, and I loved it. The simple melodies combined with the incredible piano lead hit me. Of course, I didn’t understand the lyrics then, but they stuck with me.

That song was The Way It Is, written by Bruce Hornsby and recorded by Hornsby along with his band, The Range, at the time.

Hornsby has said he wanted to create a sense of place with the song lyrics, providing a snapshot of small-town life in Virginia. Much like Springsteen with New Jersey or Mellencamp with Indiana, Hornsby wanted to take listeners to Virginia and talk with them about racism.

I’m quite certain that’s exactly what he accomplished, and given the song’s enduring legacy in the nearly 40 years since its release, many millions have had the chance to talk about it and its meaning.

And that enduring legacy has reached beyond the pop and rock genres with many artists covering or sampling portions of The Way It Is for their own hits, most famously done by Tupac Shakur with Changes.

There’s not a version of The Way It Is that I don’t enjoy, but this one from BBC 2 Radio is quite good. The orchestra adds something special to Hornsby’s iconic piano.

Long Read of the Day

In the late 18th century, officials in Prussia and Saxony began to rearrange their complex, diverse forests into straight rows of single-species trees. Forests had been sources of food, grazing, shelter, medicine, bedding and more for the people who lived in and around them, but to the early modern state, they were simply a source of timber.

So-called “scientific forestry” was that century’s growth hacking. It made timber yields easier to count, predict and harvest, and meant owners no longer relied on skilled local foresters to manage forests. They were replaced with lower-skilled laborers following basic algorithmic instructions to keep the monocrop tidy, the understory bare.

Information and decision-making power now flowed straight to the top. Decades later when the first crop was felled, vast fortunes were made, tree by standardized tree. The clear-felled forests were replanted, with hopes of extending the boom. Readers of the American political anthropologist of anarchy and order, James C. Scott, know what happened next.

It was a disaster so bad that a new word, Waldsterben, or “forest death,” was minted to describe the result. All the same species and age, the trees were flattened in storms, ravaged by insects and disease — even the survivors were spindly and weak. Forests were now so tidy and bare, they were all but dead.

The Internet as we know it now has become a little too well-maintained and planned. We’re not seeing the true purpose of this amazing tool; in fact, we’re moving further and further from that original purpose.

Just like in our schools, we need to have a little less structure and let things get a little wild.

Video of the Day

Not to get into a huge debate here, but I will talk about AI. As a tech guy, I know all sides of every argument around the arrival of Generative AI tools like ChatGPT, DALL-E, and more. Yes, there are some very clear ethical issues attached to the usage of these tools, especially in the creative world.

However, there are very valid uses of the technology, provided we operate on the assumption that we are human beings and should treat everyone as such. We should only use AI tools to better ourselves or our work and NOT use AI as some all-encompassing replacement for the creativity of the human spirit.

This week on CBS Sunday Morning, Randy Travis got a feature. Travis, an award-winning, massively successful, Hall of Fame country music artist, suffered a stroke in 2013. Given only a 2% chance to live, Travis has battled against the odds and is still with us more than a decade later. However, the portions of his brain tasked with speech and singing were the most damaged by the stroke. His singing career was essentially over.

Until some folks thought about all the voice-generating tools powered by AI that create something that sounds a little like a famous artist but without any of the heart, passion, or humanity behind their voice. They decided that there must be a way to use these tools responsibly and help Randy Travis get his voice back.

Trust me, you’re going to need Kleenex for this one.

Final Thoughts

Admittedly, I’ve switched to publishing daily thoughts as a bit of an experiment. I’m trying to force myself to push out more content to continue developing my writing practice. However, I don’t ever want to get to a place where I’m publishing just for the sake of publishing. Veteran web publisher and all-around genius Om Malik recently talked about excessive activity leading to average quality, especially in the online world as the almighty algorithms continue to dominate. Cory Doctorow talks about the ‘enshittification’ of everything and I certainly see that on every social platform out there.

So, I’ll keep publishing daily but promise to remain vigilant about content quality. Yes, I like to share my thoughts, but I don’t want to share without providing value or insight. Only add good things to the world friends, never take away.


Thanks for taking the time to read this post. If you’ve enjoyed the insights and stories, consider showing your support by subscribing to my weekly newsletter. It’s a great way to stay updated and dive deeper into my content. Alternatively, if you love audiobooks or want to try them, click here to start your free trial with Audible. Your support in any form means the world to me and helps keep this blog thriving. Looking forward to connecting with you more!

Friday, May 3, 2024

may
Photo by Rahul Pandit on Unsplash

Greetings Starfighters,

The enemy is at the gates, things have fallen apart. The center does not hold…

Yes, I’m being dramatic. The climax of Derby Week is here in Kentucky with the running of the Kentucky Oaks today and the 150th Kentucky Derby tomorrow. I’ll avoid downtown Louisville this weekend at all costs to leave the visitors to their frivolities and watch as they leave behind the memories of too many mint juleps and not enough gambling wins to make the journey worthwhile.

Also, I have some guidelines on how to prepare the best mint julep for your Derby parties. Pour a shot of bourbon, neat or on ice, however you prefer. Take all the other julep ingredients and throw them in the trash. Enjoy your bourbon.

Seriously. Mint juleps are gross. And I like mint.

I’m more focused on Star Wars Day and Free Comic Book Day. The universe conspired to have both events fall on the same day as the Derby, leaving alternative entertainment plans and celebrations for those not so enamored with seeing horses who’ve had too many beatings carry jockeys around an oval for two minutes, running so hard that they nearly die. Of course, if they get injured while running, the likelihood they will die increases. Sometimes, they euthanize the horse right on the track.

We’re going to catch The Phantom Menace in the theater today, and I’m taking my kiddo to our local comic shop on Saturday to grab a free comic (and pick up a copy of Space Ghost #1 if they have any left!).

But, I’ll still sit down for a few minutes, catch the Louisville Cardinal Marching Band play “My Old Kentucky Home” before the Derby, and sing along with a tear in my eye. As much as I don’t care for the Derby, there are some traditions I’ll happily participate in this weekend.

Quote of the Day

"Good writing is often about letting go of fear and affectation. Affectation itself, beginning with the need to define some sorts of writing as “good” and other sorts as “bad,” is fearful behavior. Good writing is also about making good choices when it comes to picking the tools you plan to work with." (Stephen King, On Writing)

“Good writing is often about letting go of fear and affectation. Affectation itself, beginning with the need to define some sorts of writing as “good” and other sorts as “bad,” is fearful behavior. Good writing is also about making good choices when it comes to picking the tools you plan to work with.” (Stephen King, On Writing)

The core of what our dark leader, Stephen King, is getting at here is to become good at writing—or anything, really—you have to get past your own doubts and fears and just do it. Nothing gets done until something is done, and nothing changes until something changes.

To put it in scientific terms, “an object at rest tends to stay at rest, an object in motion tends to stay in motion unless acted on by an outside force.

The outside force is you, or maybe your will. Regardless, until you do something, your fears will always win. They’re not going to go away (it’d be nice, but they won’t), so you may as well make peace with them and let them know who’s really in charge.

Musical Interlude

I love Debussy’s Clair de Lune. Love it. There’s something about the layers of rolling chords, the dynamic range from almost a whisper to a swelling roar. For me, it’s a perfect piece of music and sounds equally brilliant whether a master pianist delivers a solo or the full orchestra carries the musical load. Here’s a great interpretation (with great acoustics) to brighten your day.

Long Read of the Day

If you’ve ever wondered exactly why your favorite (or least favorite) celebrity gets to write a book, there’s a reason. The publishing industry mainly focuses on celebrity books and repeat bestsellers to make money. Most books sell very few copies, with only a small percentage achieving high sales numbers. Big advances for books don’t guarantee high sales, and backlist books contribute significantly to publishers’ revenues.

Elle Griffin explores the events of the failed Penguin Random House/Simon & Schuster merger detailed in the book The Trial and reveals some of the nasty bits about the publishing industry.

Video of the Day

I’m double-dipping here with another music video—god, why did MTV ever stop playing them—but this is excellent and I’m going to force all of you to appreciate classical music before I’m done (Mayhap not, but I’m still gonna try.)

Evan Goldfine has an excellent newsletter on listening to Bach, and yesterday, he released a “beginner’s guide” that provides several entry points for your Bach journey. Yo-Yo Ma and Chris Thile are personal favorites, so seeing them mentioned along with bassist Edgar Meyer was a treat. Here they are playing a rendition of Bach’s Trio Sonata No. 6 in G Major from their 2017 ‘Bach Trios’ release.

Final Thoughts

Enjoy the weekend, gang. Make time for coffee, reading, and maybe some pizza. And spend time with those you love because they’re all we’ve got when it all ends. The rest is just bonus points.


Thanks for taking the time to read this post. If you’ve enjoyed the insights and stories, consider showing your support by subscribing to my weekly newsletter. It’s a great way to stay updated and dive deeper into my content. Alternatively, if you love audiobooks or want to try them, click here to start your free trial with Audible. Your support in any form means the world to me and helps keep this blog thriving. Looking forward to connecting with you more!

A bit of techno typing

What happens when you give kids support and an open playground?

Austin Kleon’s son, Owen, dropped his latest SoundCloud album.

He’s 11.

My favorite track, Typing, is embedded here. It’s a banger of creativity. And heavily influenced by Kraftwerk and Daft Punk, just like I am.

Oh, the possibilities.


Thanks for taking the time to read this post. If you’ve enjoyed the insights and stories, consider showing your support by subscribing to my weekly newsletter. It’s a great way to stay updated and dive deeper into my content. Alternatively, if you love audiobooks or want to try them, click here to start your free trial with Audible. Your support in any form means the world to me and helps keep this blog thriving. Looking forward to connecting with you more!

Mark Knopfler and Emmylou Harris – Real Live Roadrunning

In my estimation, Mark Knopfler doesn’t get the widespread acclaim he should as one of our most talented guitarists making music over the last few decades.

And Emmylou Harris is also an underappreciated gem.

Sit back, relax, and enjoy these two masters performing together in this concert from 2006.


Thanks for taking the time to read this post. If you’ve enjoyed the insights and stories, consider showing your support by subscribing to my weekly newsletter. It’s a great way to stay updated and dive deeper into my content. Alternatively, if you love audiobooks or want to try them, click here to start your free trial with Audible. Your support in any form means the world to me and helps keep this blog thriving. Looking forward to connecting with you more!

Jukebox heroes and $20 fiddles

boy wearing black shirt on teal machine
Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Greetings Starfighters,

Faster than the fleetest hoof ever struck the pavement or a wheel ever turned upon an axle, the magnificence of Spring Break lies upon us in the Bluegrass State. There is, perhaps, no better time for a break than right now, as many of our schools haven’t had a long break since January 2, baseball makes its annual return from the doldrums of winter, and the sun shines ever brighter each day.

I digress…

Yes, I’m in a good mood, partially because I’m off work for a few days and have a chance to catch up on my doctoral work (which never seems to end), but also to spend a few days with my kiddo (my apologies to all spouses who don’t get a break when their teacher partners do), do some reading (I’m so far behind on my yearly challenge), do some housework, and overall get ready to wrap up another school year with gusto.

Also, my virtual learning academy students just finished recording season one of their podcast, which I’ll be sharing very soon. They did a great job, even if they were freaking out the entire time they recorded.

So now, dear travelers, I present you with 10 things I thought were worth sharing with you this week…

10 Things Worth Sharing

  • I see more reasons to keep arts programs in our schools every day. When we involve students in the arts, we give them a chance to tap into the creative realm and expand their imagination. And maybe, just maybe, they’ll get a $20 violin that will take them everywhere…
  • I read Ron Berger’s excellent An Ethic of Excellence this week after staring at it on my bookshelf since last summer. I should have read it sooner. Hat tip to good friend Scott McCleod for the recommendation. Here’s a video of Ron from PBLWorks a few years ago. He starts with his philosophy that “we vastly underestimate the capacity of kids to do beautiful work.”
  • When you have ideas, put them down on paper. Share them. Get them out in the open and let them breathe. Get feedback from others and then, get to work on those ideas. If you let them, ideas rot.
  • Admittedly, I’m a huge Carl Sagan fan. I mean, why shouldn’t I be? His Cosmos TV series was an instrumental part of my childhood-yes, I was raised on public television-and his ideas still grip my brain today. However, I’m not sure I could handle his undergrad reading list from the 50s. It’s pretty stacked.
  • I love movies. Always have, always will. However, I will admit that I have not always taken the time to view artistic and important films. Yes, friends, I have been a populist movie watcher and enjoyed every minute of it. But, I’m doing my best to expand my horizons and, as such, have apparently become part of the cult of Criterion.
  • I’ve heard of some school districts adding student members to their school boards but I’d love to see more of it. Students need someone to speak directly about their experiences in schools and stop relying solely on the opinions of us old folk to make decisions.
  • Can art help people? I hope so…
  • Radiohead’s Creep serves as an anthem for anyone who has ever felt self-conscious or suffered from imposter syndrome. Or maybe that’s just how the song makes me feel. Regardless, I shed a tear or two every time I hear Creep, and if I’m alone in my car, I’ll likely scream much of the lyrics as I weep. Maybe you do, too. I’m not sure, but perhaps there are a few folks in this crowd of 1,600 doing the same as they sing Creep together.
  • Oklahoma is adding more virtual charter schools for the coming school year, even as some in the state believe that virtual schools have reached a ‘saturation point.’ Working with and researching virtual schools, I’m interested anytime news like this shows up as I hope that we are able to maintain virtual learning as an option for many students who haven’t found success in the traditional classroom.
  • Finally, did you know that KOOP radio in Austin, TX, has a Sunday afternoon Joystick Jukebox show? And that they have an archive online? Yes, you, too, can enjoy an hour of video game music spanning over 50 years of the genre every Sunday. It’s wicked cool and, you know, for kids!

Thanks for taking the time to read this post. If you’ve enjoyed the insights and stories, consider showing your support by subscribing to my weekly newsletter. It’s a great way to stay updated and dive deeper into my content. Alternatively, if you love audiobooks or want to try them, click here to start your free trial with Audible. Your support in any form means the world to me and helps keep this blog thriving. Looking forward to connecting with you more!

PS: Next week, I’ll talk about the importance of this book and my thoughts about the stories inside.

dangerous visions book

That $20 fiddle has taken me everywhere…

bodie mountain express

Much of my teen years and into my twenties revolved around music. I played trumpet from 6th grade onward–and wasn’t too shabby–I eventually learned a bit of piano–I can chord and keep a rhythm like nobody’s business–and a bit of signing.

My wife has a music degree and is an excellent flautist. And my kiddo is already falling into the world of musical theatre with all her heart.

While I’m no longer actively involved in the music scene, I’ll always be a musician and hooked on the power of music. I love it and always will, and love sharing great music I stumble upon through my yearly playlists.

Music can bring us all together and inspire us to be more than we believe. For some, it can take you outside of your circumstances into a new world filled with sights and sounds beyond imagination. A new world of hope and promise.

I’m a huge believer in keeping arts programs in our schools. My time in the band kept me sane in my middle and high school experiences. Without the connections I made and the love of music that gave me a place to go and hide when things got rough, which happened regularly as a chubby, geeky kid in the late 80s and early 90s, I’m not sure what I would have done, but it probably wouldn’t have been great.

Los Angeles Unified School District is one of the last school districts in the country to provide freely repaired instruments to its students. The Oscar-winning documentary The Last Repair Shop takes us behind the scenes of that work.

More importantly, we learn the stories of a few individuals and what music and this instrument repair program mean to them.

From a mother who works to support her family to a man who caught the fiddle itch so bad he just had to have a $20 violin from a yard sale, these stories will inspire and make you weep.

By the way, that $20 violin took Duane Michaels and his band, Bodie Mountain Express, all the way to opening for Elvis on his biggest night ever and around the world, and then took him to repair woodwinds for LAUSD students.

From the film-

In a nondescript warehouse in the heart of Los Angeles, a dwindling handful of devoted craftspeople maintain over 80,000 student musical instruments, the largest remaining workshop in America of its kind. Meet four unforgettable characters whose broken-and-repaired lives have been dedicated to bringing so much more than music to the schoolchildren of the recording capital of the world. Watch “The Last Repair Shop,” directed by Ben Proudfoot and Kris Bowers.

In less than 45 minutes, you’ll see these stories and some of the students touched by this program. Music has a unique power among the arts to unite so many, sometimes without words.

We must keep music in our schools, forever.


Thanks for taking the time to read this post. If you’ve enjoyed the insights and stories, consider showing your support by subscribing to my weekly newsletter. It’s a great way to stay updated and dive deeper into my content. Alternatively, if you love audiobooks or want to try them, click here to start your free trial with Audible. Your support in any form means the world to me and helps keep this blog thriving. Looking forward to connecting with you more!

Everything I’m writing is s#*%

writing

Greetings Starfighters,

Happy first (partial) week of spring here in the Northern Hemisphere—our southern neighbors rejoice as they head into my favorite time of year…

I’ve walked around most of this week not knowing what day it was or just being off a day. I’m quite certain this is all due to still recovering from the nonsense of daylight savings time (because we’re not saving anything). Yet, we move along into the vast unknown of tomorrow.

Also, has anyone else adjusted their reading goal for the year? I’m really behind and am not sure I can catch up with all that life brings my way. But, recognizing your limits is key and knowing that the only person I’m competing against is myself is also helpful when I feel defeated.

Anyway, here are 10 cool things I wanted to share this week:

10 Things Worth Sharing

  1. Creativity is Humanity
  2. As usual, I’ve gone down another musical rabbit hole that began with finding the amazing Hermanos Gutiérrez and has taken me into some very chill musical vibes. If you need a nice smooth start to your day, I have some great finds for you.
  3. English learners stopped coming to class during the pandemic. One group is tackling the problem by helping their parents.
  4. I’m always on the hunt for new creatives and curious to see their creative processes. This week, I found Jacob Collier by way of Matt Mullenweg of WordPress fame. Collier joins Paul Davids in this video to discuss learning to play the guitar, tweaking the rules, and changing everything to suit your style.
  5. In Star Wars news this week (you knew there was going to be a geeky moment soon), the trailer for the new “The Acolyte” series dropped this week, giving us a first glimpse at the time 100 years prior to anything Star Wars-related we’ve seen on any screen. There’s even a Wookiee Jedi.
  6. How do US teachers teach? We don’t know, and it’s difficult to figure out.
  7. While I’m a huge fan of exploration and creative work that sometimes takes us on grand adventures that aren’t so productive, sometimes there is no other option than to do the work of learning.
  8. Ten books from MIT faculty to expand your knowledge of teaching, learning, and technology
  9. Speaking of doing the work of learning and creativity, what if you made your classroom or workspace a living display of your creativity like Lynda Barry?
  10. Lastly, when you feel like the work you do is complete and utter garbage—don’t we all get that way at times?—remember that you’re not alone. The novelist Percival Everett says, “I’m pretty sure everything I’m writing is shit…I’m just trying to make the best shit I can.

That’s it for this week. The Spring Break edition will arrive in your inbox next week.

P.S. – I’m going through all my old comics lately and am amazed at some of the ads. Here’s this one with a cameo from Vincent Price to make your own shrunken head…

shrunken head ad from a comic

Thanks for taking the time to read this post. If you’ve enjoyed the insights and stories, consider showing your support by subscribing to my weekly newsletter. It’s a great way to stay updated and dive deeper into my content. Alternatively, if you love audiobooks or want to try them, click here to start your free trial with Audible. Your support in any form means the world to me and helps keep this blog thriving. Looking forward to connecting with you more!

Chill Music for Springtime Mornings

pink flower field
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

As we depart from the nonsense that is Winter and dive headlong into pollen-filled, sinus-breaking, gloriously sunny early days of Spring, you too may get the urge to sit outside on your back deck on a Saturday morning and just chill.

Back deck sitting is one of my favorite pastimes and often when I do some of my best reading and thinking.

Sitting and chilling in my world means there will be music in the background, preferably something with a chill vibe and mostly instrumental.

I’ve been jamming on Hermanos Gutiérrez for a bit now and just loving these brothers more and more each time I listen.

Here’s their NPR Tiny Desk concert from early 2013 to give you a good intro to their music.

After reading a comment on that particular video, I found another band with similar vibes called Khruangbin.

This trio from Houston, Texas, is heavily inspired by 1960s and ’70s funk and soul from, of all places, Thailand. That musical passion has taken them on a journey that, these days, incorporates music from Spain, Ethiopia, and the Middle East.

Yes, they exude cool.

Add these two groups to your early weekend morning chill vibe. You won’t regret it.


Thanks for taking the time to read this post. If you’ve enjoyed the insights and stories, consider showing your support by subscribing to my weekly newsletter. It’s a great way to stay updated and dive deeper into my content. Alternatively, if you love audiobooks or want to try them, click here to start your free trial with Audible. Your support in any form means the world to me and helps keep this blog thriving. Looking forward to connecting with you more!

Dune-inspired Electronica is Brilliant

I haven’t made it to see Dune Part 2 yet, but I discovered this amazing album that came out around the same time as Dune Part 1.

It’s giving tons of Kraftwerk vibes, which is awesome. I also think this should have been the soundtrack for the 1984 version of Dune; it certainly fits the aesthetic.