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I talked about how I've gotten very behind on my pop culture consumption in the end of year posts I managed to get written. One good thing about a new year is that it wipes my slate clean and I can start counting books and comics and so forth anew. Last year I managed to read only 46 books and 248 comics. I know it sounds absurd to lament that fact, but both totals are way down from 2015. However, I'm currently on pace to read 73 books and 502 comics this year. I'm well aware that won't happen, but it's fun to look at my pace for the year this early on and dream. Anyway, one reason I ran out of steam on my year-end posts was having to come up with new content about most items. To combat that fact, I want to write more about what I'm consuming when I'm doing it. So, here's the first brick in this year's wall (I hope it's not just a pile of bricks)...

Last Year by Robert Charles Wilson - Even though I got a half dozen new books at Christmas, I decided it would be fun if the first book I read in 2017 was called Last Year.  A simple joke, yes, but it was also a book I wanted to read. The novel is set in the late 1800s in an Illinois where a futuristic city has sprung up west of Chicago. It was built by time travelers, who have come to the past to make money via tours and...other means. Jesse Cullum works for the City and gets embroiled in the story by saving the life of President Ulysses S. Grant when he arrives for a tour. Cullum is a strong character with a past in San Francisco that he is avoiding, but his moment of heroism puts him on a path to confront those issues by returning. He becomes involved with a woman from the future and they're both caught up in the machinations of the charismatic figure at the head of the City of Futurity. It's a fast-paced novel and quite good. I've never read Wilson's work before, but I am planning on changing that fact at some point this year.

Spider-Gwen - I caught up on the first 6 issues of the most recent iteration of this series via Marvel Unlimited over the past week. The series is set on an alternate earth where Gwen Stacy got bit by the radioactive spider and where Peter Parker became the Lizard and then died during a fight with Spider-Woman (Gwen). The world-building is a ton of fun; I am particularly smitten with Earth-65's Captain America, a black woman who was unstuck in time for a period. The characters are interesting and the art by Robbi Rodriguez (and the fill-in by Chris Visions) is great. I will probably be writing more about this comic and the other Spider women soon.

Lazarus - I used a good portion of my Christmas cash to buy digital comics (DC was having a big sale) and the four most recent issues of this series were part of the pile, as it were. I've been a fan since the beginning (and not just because artist Michael Lark is my second cousin), but I'd fallen behind and hadn't reengaged once the series came off its hiatus in the summer. These issues comprise almost all of "The Cull" storyline, which will finish in an upcoming issue. There are big revelations and machinations as well as great action scenes and outstanding character work. Very glad to be current again.

Comedy Bang Bang - I know I just mentioned this is my Podcasts 2016 entry, but I have been making a concerted effort to catch up. That said, I'll be 23 episodes behind after tonight...and a new episode will get posted tomorrow. Plus, I have 5 more tour episodes to listen to. Anyway, I have been laughing a ton to Andy Daly's Neptuna with his dire warning from Atlantis, the great rapport between Scott Aukerman and Adam Scott, and Paul F. Tompkins doing Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger among others.

TV comedy - By the beginning of the week, I had finally caught up on Brooklyn Nine-Nine, New Girl, and The Goldbergs...only to get new episodes of each. So it goes. I did have fun catching up and will endeavor to not fall that far behind on them again. We'll see.


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Sunday Shuffle #413

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Here's today's ten...

1. I 4 U & U 4 Me (Home Demo)/The Decemberists (15) - last played on 8/19/15
2. Part One/Band of Horses (6) - last played on 5/7/16
3. Shame Chamber/Kurt Vile (5) - last played on 7/23/15
4. In the Eyes of My Friends/Sugar (2) - last played on 10/5/14
5. I Could Have Done This Myself/Lightspeed Champion (4) - last played on 9/1/14
6. Nonstop Disco Powerpack/The Beastie Boys (10) - 5/15/16
7. Mountain/Lucero (7) - last played on 4/29/12
8. Evergreen/Matthew Sweet (1) - played countless times on CD
9. The Sleeping Beauty/American Music Club (4) - …

Sunday Shuffle #448

I'm going to do a bit of a "spring forward" edition this morning, which means I'm going to skip over the first song that pops up and start with the second. I think I'll keep doing that throughout, so you get all the even numbered songs, #2 - #20. Why not?

2. Bechamel/Pernice Brothers (16) - last played on 5/15/15
4. Red Hill Mining Town/U2 (5) - last played on 3/13/16
6. Late-Century Dream/Superchunk (18) - last played on 11/18/15
8. Your Weather/Dinosaur Jr. (19) - last played on 8/3/16
10. Centre For Holy Wars/The New Pornographers (2) - last played on 1/27/15
12. Girls and Boys (Pet Shop Boys 12" Remix)/Blur (3) - last played on 2/28/16
14. Hard To Find/The National (25) - last played on 2/12/17
16. Metal School/Spoon (17) - last played on 1/20/17
18. I'm in Love (With Arthur Dove)/Portastatic (8) - last played on 7/29/16
20. Simple X/Andrew Bird (4) - last played on 5/1/16

5 X 10

I've recently found myself listening to albums that came out 10, 20, 30, 40, and 50 years ago. Here are some thoughts...

The Broken West/I Can't Go On I'll Go On (2007) - "Down in the Valley" hooked me the first time I heard it streaming on KEXP. At the time, the band was still called The Brokedown, but that would soon change to due copyright issues; that's okay, I like The Broken West as a name better anyway. To get back to "Down in the Valley," what grabbed me were the ringing guitars, layered harmonies, and the organ that weaved in and out. And the lyrics, of course - "I had my feelings like the Dutchman has his gold/Deep in the canyon by the river that runs cold." Speaking of The Dutchman's Gold, that was the name of the EP that I learned had already been out and used my eMusic credits to grab it. "Down in the Valley" was the lead-off track, but there were six other great power pop songs and I was both in love and even mor…