I can give you a long list of favorites, but who reads those
anyway? Here are the most recent picks to win my heart:
1.) The Lower River (Paul Theroux) - A newly divorced and retired
man feels nostalgic about his stint as a teacher in a remote corner
of Malawi four decades ago and decides to go back for a visit. He's
heartily embraced by the locals, most of whom only know him by
legend, but he soon realizes that there might be a more nefarious
reason why the villagers are eager to welcome him "home" -- and are
equally reluctant to let him leave. After my own dreadful experiences in West
-- as well as other corners of the world where I could
have easily disappeared with no one the wiser -- I found this book
to be utterly terrifying.
2.) The Martian (Andy Weir) - It's Man vs. Mars, and astronaut,
botanist and good-natured smartass Mark Watney is more than up for
the challenge when he finds himself stranded after his crew is
forced to make an emergency evacuation without him. Andy Weir runs
with a sensational sci-fi premise and makes it all the more
believable -- and urgent -- by way of applying real science and
engineering. It also helps that Watney is an incredibly likeable
protagonist, the kind of guy that might inspire all the world to
work together to get him home (and then buy him a beer). Rest
assured, this is a rollicking good read; the audiobook in
particular kept me riveted for days on end.
3.) The Terror (Dan Simmons) - Think you had a cold winter? Read
this historical fiction horror novel about the Lost Franklin
Expedition. Imagine being stuck in sea ice in the Arctic Circle for
2+ years with ever-dwindling fuel reserves (true), lead-poisoned
fresh water reserves (true), tainted canned foods (true) and a
possibly supernatural Ancient One in the shape of a monstrous polar
bear picking off your crewmates one by one (fiction?).
1.) The Lunchbox - Delightful and somewhat bittersweet Indian film
about a long-suffering housewife who starts a correspondence with
an older man who accidentally receives the lunches originally made
for her husband. I won't give anything away, but this is one of
those films that reveals that even the smallest acts of kindness --
listening, empathizing, sharing a meal, letting other people in --
can inspire us to make more of our lives. "Sometimes the wrong
train will take you to the right station", indeed.
2.) The Knick - IS ANYONE WATCHING THIS WEIRDNESS? Set in early
20th century New York, Clive Owen plays a brilliant surgeon in an
underfunded hospital making huge discoveries in "modernized"
medicine as well as cutting-edge medical technology and surgical
technique. Produced and directed by Steve Soderbergh using handheld
camerawork and (mostly) natural lighting, and featuring an
anachronistic EDM score by Cliff Martinez, this is arguably the
grittiest, grimiest, most fascinating show on television.
3.) Louie (Season 4) - Louis CK is getting more ambitious with his
storytelling, and it's paying off in spades. I'd argue that the
"Elevator" story arc currently playing out is the best thing on TV
this year. (Just narrowly beating out True Detective.)
4.) Chef - Jon Favreau has the Midas touch when it comes to giving
his films just the right amount of heart without being cloying. His
latest indie feature is high-spirited, smartly cast and deftly
written. Killer soundtrack, too.
5.) Moon Man - An immensely charming animated film from Germany
about the man in the moon getting lonely and hopping a comet to
earth to learn more about us and -- just maybe -- make some
friends. Get your hands on an HD copy and watch in wonder.
My passion for music extends across all genres, but I'm mostly
rock-based and definitely lyrically-focused. Of late:
1.) Lissie / Back to Forever - Whenever Stevie Nicks is ready to
pass the torch, Lissie will undoubtedly be there to hold it high.
Seriously, this woman is a heartbreaker.
2.) William Topley & The Sea Gypsies / Aristocrats of the South
Seas - One of my all-time favorite songwriters. His best album in a
3.) Dave Anthony / Shame Chamber - Dave Anthony has a knack for
stumbling (blindly) into the most awkward of social interactions.
This record leaves me howling with laughter every time I listen to
Note: I've had the good fortune to interview a lot of great bands
big and small over the last decade on The Sound Of
You & Me
And speaking of Podcasts:
The Smartest Man in the World, Never Not Funny, Radio Lab, This
American Life, RISK!, Wait, Wait... and The Moth help kill a lot of
time at work.
Food (aka my favorite Chicago-centric meals):
Peanut Butter Shake @ The Brown Sack
worth living, dying and killing for. Seriously.)
Turkey Club @ The Rocking Horse
Ground Nut Stew and Smoked Gouda Mac 'n' Cheese @ Handlebar
Pantera @ Kuma's Corner
Sprecher's Root Beer(!)
Chorizo from my neighborhood deli.
I love breakfast! That said, I've lived in Chicago for nearly 15
years. Where can I get good hashbrowns around here already?!