Saturday, December 8, 2018

2018 in the rear view mirror

Books, movies, podcasts and music challenge, teach, encourage, enrich and refresh my daily life. Following is my attempt to note those that made a difference for me in 2018. Lists are not is priority order.

BOOKS I read by the fireplace in the living room, in bed for a few minutes before falling asleep, at coffee shops, while waiting for appointments and on summer camping trips (maybe my favorite reading setting). Here are 12 that found a way to dig deeper into my skin, psyche and soul. Included is a one-sentence (and hopefully not an extreme run-on) commentary for each title. You follow my reading via Goodreads:

Southernmost by Silas House

Southernmost - Silas House. I’m a sucker for a story that breathes the 
There There by Tommy Orangespiritual/faith/life journey from law to grace. 

There There - Tommy Orange. Native Americans on a “I can hardly breathe” quest driven by love, history, family, fear, rage and hope through urban chaos toward an unspeakable conclusion. (NYT Top 10 & Library Journal Best Books of 2018)

Hey, Kiddo by Jarrett J. Krosoczka

Hey, Kiddo - Jarrett Krosoczka. A graphic memoir reflecting on a childhood journey through emotional and physical land mines with the support of (quirky) grandparents toward a (much) better life.
The Sun Does Shine by Anthony Ray Hinton

Sun Does Shine: How I found Life and Freedom on Death Row – Anthony Ray Hinton. A true story (that shouldn’t need to be true) of wrongful conviction, our brutally flawed justice system and gracious, tenacious perseverance to overcome.

      So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo

      So You Want To Talk About Race – Ijeoma Oluo. I have a lot to learn and this book is an amazing teacher.

      Not That Bad by Roxane Gay
      Not That Bad: Dispatches From Rape Culture - Roxanne Gay. First person essays that bleed and pulse raw reality through stories often hidden, avoided and ignored. 

      Educated by Tara Westover

        Educated – Tara Westover. A story of growing up in a family dominated by religious excess, reactive paranoia and cultural escape to finding herself and her place in the greater world. (NYT Top 10)
        The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks

        The Wife Between Us – Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen. Go ahead, read this book and message me every time you have it figured out…and then, let me know when you are finished.

        Hang Time by Elgin Baylor

        Hang Time: My Life in Basketball - Elgin Baylor. I knew Baylor was a great player, but I didn’t know much of his life both within and beyond the game.

        Disrupting Poverty by Kathleen M. Budge

        Disrupting Poverty: Five Powerful Classroom Practices – Kathleen Budge and William Parrett. “I love this book, it affirms my prejudices.” I have used that line as a half joke for years, no joke this time. (okay, that’s two sentences)
        American Like Me by America Ferrera

        American Like Me: Reflections on Life Between Cultures – American Ferrera. 31 essays explore the questions of the day, “Who is American?” “What does it mean to be an American?” and much more.
        Dear Girl, by Amy Krouse Rosenthal

        Dear Girl – Amy Krouse Rosenthal & Paris Rosenthal. A perfect book for our annual camping trip of playing, laughing, sharing, learning and growing with our Granddaughters.


        MOVIES To be honest MoviePass may have enabled me to see more movies in theaters in 2018 than in the past decade. Special thanks to the Pickford Film Center for keeping independent movies thriving in Bellingham

        • Eighth Grade I have worked with young people in some fashion for 40 plus years and this movie bridges the current realities with freshness and life.
        • Won’t You Be My Neighbor – Fred Rogers wasn’t perfect, but he was better than we deserved and this film proves it.
        • First Reformed – I worked much of my life in ministries making this an almost too real view of the struggles of life and systems.
        • Crazy Rich Asians – Fresh, fun, warm and engaging for a great date night with Connie.
        • BlacKKKlansman – Perfect Spike Lee story telling with an unforgettable punch that should be shown to every high school student in America.
        • RBG – Wow, long may she live lead and serve!
        • Three Identical Strangers –Complex and compelling with more questions than answers.
        • Christopher Robin – “Say What You See,” has become our new favorite game while riding in the car with our Granddaughter, Kairi. 
        • The Rider – Bloody, dusty, raw, true, human and transcendent.
        • Hearts Beat Loud – Great father/daughter coming of age story, but, “Who is coming of age?”
        • Juliet Naked – Affirms my hope that life is more about redemption than karma.

        MUSIC I have eclectic interests musically but when it comes to favorites I’m usually found in the Americana, Roots streams with merging of diverse styles. This fusion can be seen by the concerts Connie and I attended this year.
        • Rosanne CashIt was a dream come true for me to hear her, and her multi-talented husband John Leventhal, at the Mount Baker Theater playing a stripped down acoustic set.
        • Bruce Cockburn – We took our sons and daughter-in-laws for a near sacred Schmotzer family memory lane evening.  

        • Mavis StaplesMavis, at 79, took us to church, no it was better than church, well maybe it was what I wish church would be.
        • Taylor SwiftShouldn’t all grandparents take their granddaughters to see Taylor at Century Link? 

        • Lyle LovettWe have cherished memories of seeing Lyle with family and friends over three decades and this, an anniversary weekend and first trip to Chateau St Michelle, did not disappoint.

        • I’m With HerWhen Sara Watkins began collaborating with Sarah Jarosz and Aoife O’Donovan as I’m With Her I knew something special was happening and this concert proved it true, very true.



        Over the years I transitioned from being a runner to jogger, to plodder and now a walker and my current work includes a daily commute. Fortunately podcast have blossomed in the same era.
        • Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me – Amazing cast and quirky trivia combine for my kind of fun!
        • Malcom Gladwell Revisionist History – Looking deeper into little known or rarely remembered events and situations that have continuing importance and value.
        • Disgraceful – True crime stories from the world of rock and roll.
        • NPR Daily Politics – Recapping the politics of the day, if you can take it (if I can take it).
        • The Bible for Normal People – An attempt to explore the Bible with new eyes.
        • Code Switch – Honest, and at times humorous, examination of race and identity.
        • 30 for 30 – Proof that sports is about people and stories more than points and competition.
        • The Axe Files – Conversations that humanize politicians and politics.
        • You Make It Weird – Let’s see, scatological humor leads to stream of conscious conversation ending with honest exploration of perceptions and practices related to God.

        I wish shalom for you all each new year and each new day.