Top five, today

Mason & Dixon: I’m nearly through this incredible titan of a novel. I’m sure I’ll write more about it once I’ve finished the story, but, for now, it’s enough to say that this is one of the greatest reading experiences I’ve had in life. The writing style, the historical references, the grand world-building of the 1760s and their seismic shifts in American political consciousness and revolutionary spirit. It’s an enveloping romp and a window into a dream of the past and of the timeless future of American progress.

8/3/18: For my money, this is the finest show of Phish’s summer tour this year. We’ve still got one more show at MPP tonight (and the grand finale festival next weekend), but, at the moment, this show towers above the rest — by a wide margin. It’s a wonderful show, and I’m hoping that the heights attained that night in Atlanta are reached once again, in one form or another, next week in Watkins Glen.

Small City Taphouse: B and I got beers and dinner here Friday night. It’s a fantastic little outpost in downtown Sandusky. We spent most of the day at Cedar Point, riding coasters and wandering around in a haze of youthful bliss — the sort that can only be found at amusement parks. I don’t go to CP too often these days (once or twice in the past decade?), but it’s always fun. B’s parents had raved about Small City, so we had to check it out. Very cool vibe: wide open space, multiple bars, killer Asian fusion menu and a hell of a lot of beers on tap. I drank two IPAs from JAFB in Wooster, Ohio. We each got a nice bowl of pho and split a plate of calamari. No doubt, we’ll be back soon. (Sandusky, also, more generally, is a great and weird little place. We ended up down the water for a few hours after dinner, talking about the meaning of time and life, sipping vodka as the sun set low against the Lake Erie horizon. Great night.)

The Game: I’m watching this early David Fincher classic this afternoon. He was one of my first  “favorite directors,” and his output hasn’t slowed down at all. But The Game is the sort of knotty, real-life thriller that I love tripping through on a Sunday afternoon. The dog is sleeping next to me. Great movie in the background.

Blue Train: I’ve been listening to a lot of Coltrane lately. Part of it is this: I can’t write while listening to music with a lot of lyrics, and so I end up listening to Phish or the Dead or whatever all day long. And that’s fine! But I need to branch out my instrumental listening habits, and I’ve long been lurking on the fringes of jazz. For the past few weeks, I’ve just picked out early Coltrane albums and let them roll while I knock out a story at work or while I write something on the blog at night. My jazz literacy isn’t great, so I’m hoping that I keep this experiment going and, with a little luck, learn a thing or two about a vast corner of American music history that I confess I’ve skipped over for far too long.

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