Arts Wrap: June 2012


Book--Fiction: Tinkers 

Fair warning: This book got passed up by every major publisher for good reason. It has no plot. It's molasses-slow. It's a little overwritten at times. But the final product is the most poetic reflection on life, living, death, and dying that I've ever read. 

When it finally got published, nobody noticed. Then it won the Pulitzer. Everybody noticed.

"[Tinkers] confers on the reader the best privilege fiction can afford, the illusion of ghostly proximity to other human souls." - Marilynne Robinson


Book--Non-Fiction: On Writing Well

A seminal book in the world of writing how-to. Zinsser is a master of his craft who imbues wit, warmth, and humor into anything he puts on a page. This book has made me a more conscious writer. If you love the English language as much as I do, On Writing Well  belongs on your bookshelf.

Television: Mad Men

I was impressed with the first three seasons of Mad Men, but not in love. It had talented actors and well-written storylines, but nobody seemed to be going  anywhere in terms of character development.

Then BOOM. Seasons four and five happened.


Film: Jiro Dreams of Sushi

I saw this documentary at the IFC Center when we were living in New York. I was so inspired by Jiro and the love he has for his art--how he's always  trying to improve upon it, how he hates taking days off. As a millenial, I'm so tired of trite pep-talks about being passionate about what I do, choosing a career that I'm passionate  about, blah blah blah. 

Watch it in action. (Along with some serious food porn.)


Music: Radical Face and The Random Canyon Growlers

The more I listen to Ben Cooper (the one man behind the one-man band of Radical Face), the more obsessed I am with his music.

Brock and I saw the Random Canyon Growlers at the SLC Farmer's Market a few weeks ago and haven't stopped listening to their sounds-like-it-was-recorded-in-a-basement sampler CD since! So refreshing to hear a group of young guys playing killer  bluegrass. It ain't dead yet, folks!


Photography: Ian Ruhter's "Silver and Light"

In lieu of my past "Dance" category (which, c'mon, is kind of a hard one to fill every month), take a gander at what Ian Ruhter is doing with his camera/truck/time machine.

"Ruhter started shooting snowboarding in the mid ’90s after a stint as a notoriously rowdy pro rider. When print media moved from film to digital, so did he, but he became jaded on the lack of artistry and the amount of computer editing that was required. He missed the physicality of processing photos. He tried switching back to film, but couldn’t get the materials he wanted. Then he found wet plate, where, with a little bit of chemistry, he could make all of the supplies himself."

Photo Source

Comedy: Dirty Rotten Scoundrels

A few weeks ago, my mom took me to this musical at the Playmill Theater in West Yellowstone. When she told me that the original movie starred Michael Caine and Steve Martin, I knew I had to see it. 


Food: Five Star BBQ Company

You know how in those awful new-fangled country songs they sing about drivin' to the honkytonk and don't-stop-till-you-hear-a-banjo jizzjazz? They're talking about places like Five Star. Head out into the boonies on Geneva Road and you'll find it just beyond an old bar called The Hitching Post (I am not making this up). 

Five Star is a family-run restaurant that opened up about a year and half ago, and has since gained a rabid following of loyal customers. For good reason. The man behind the magic, JT, served his mission in the South and learned a thing or two about comfort food down there. His slow-cooked meats (brisket, pulled pork, smoked sausage, ribs...) are heavenly, but equally impressive are his homemade sauces and sides--all of which are made in-house. Sweet applesauce, cheesy mac, smoked beans, cornbread and honey-butter . . . oh, man. Don't forget to try JT's wife's pumpkin cake! If you're lucky, JT might have cooked up a fresh apple pie that day. If so, BUY A SLICE. 

It gets better: Brock and I both ate a veritable BBQ feast  here for less than $20. If that's not a reason to support local business, I don't know what is.


Fashion: Karla Deras

Pretty sure Karla is my BFF who just doesn't know it yet. How could you not  want to chop all your hair off after looking at this girl?! Beats me--which is why I did it. Karla says her style is "like a pot of stew with simplicity being the beef and androgyny and femininity being the vegetables. Oh and spontaneity is the secret ingredient!" See what I mean? BFFs.

Karla's style is all over the board and the reason it works is because she has rockin' confidence. This woman is BOLD and I love it!

Can you  make a simple tank top look amazing? Image from Karla's Closet.


Journalism: Tim Kreider and Dave McRaney

"The Busy Trap" by Tim Kreider

see also: "Why Only Yuppies Complain About Being Busy" by Jordan Weissmann

I love this piece because it touched on a lot of feelings that I've been dealing with lately. Namely, feeling like a disgusting reprobate for not  being out-of-my-mind busy. 
If you live in America in the 21st century you’ve probably had to listen to a lot of people tell you how busy they are. It’s become the default response when you ask anyone how they’re doing: “Busy!” “So busy.” “Crazy busy.” It is, pretty obviously, a boast disguised as a complaint. And the stock response is a kind of congratulation: “That’s a good problem to have,” or “Better than the opposite." 
It’s almost always people whose lamented busyness is purely self-imposed: work and obligations they’ve taken on voluntarily, classes and activities they’ve “encouraged” their kids to participate in. They’re busy because of their own ambition or drive or anxiety, because they’re addicted to busyness and dread what they might have to face in its absence. 
Busyness serves as a kind of existential reassurance, a hedge against emptiness; obviously your life cannot possibly be silly or trivial or meaningless if you are so busy, completely booked, in demand every hour of the day. 
Well guys, I'm in the throes of it now and I can tell you that it's freaking scary. Maybe I'll write a blog post on this later.

"Procrastination" by Dave McRaney

Again, another piece that I related to so well! I found this article through my friend Weston who is THE biggest procrastinator I've ever met (hey, takes one to know one!). This article talked about metacognition as a way to end procrastination. 
You must be adept at thinking about thinking to defeat yourself at procrastination. You must realize there is the you who sits there now reading this, and there is a you sometime in the future who will be influenced by a different set of ideas and desires, a you in a different setting where an alternate palette of brain functions will be available for painting reality. 
The now you may see the costs and rewards at stake when it comes time to choose studying for the test instead of going to the club, eating the salad instead of the cupcake, writing the article instead of playing the video game. 
The trick is to accept the now you will not be the person facing those choices, it will be the future you – a person who can’t be trusted. Future-you will give in, and then you’ll go back to being now-you and feel weak and ashamed. Now-you must trick future-you into doing what is right for both parties.
Isn't that a great thought?! For a control freak like me, it was revolutionary.

Capable psychonauts who think about thinking, about states of mind, about set and setting, can get things done not because they have more will power, more drive, but because they know productivity is a game of cat and mouse versus a childish primal human predilection for pleasure and novelty which can never be excised from the soul. Your effort is better spent outsmarting yourself than making empty promises through plugging dates into a calendar or setting deadlines for push ups.

You can thank that article for this blog post today.


  1. ipso facto the thanks goes to me. so you're welcome.


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