50 Years, 50 Albums (2018): American Utopia by David Byrne

I will turn 50 in November of this year, so my project for 2023 will be to listen to and review one album from each year of my life, 1973 to 2022.  The only qualification is that it has to be an album I’ve not reviewed previously.  If you have any suggestions for albums from the past 50 years, please drop them in the comments!


Top Grossing Albums of 2018:

  • Taylor Swift – Reputation
  • Drake – Scorpion
  • Post Malone – beerbongs & bentleys
  • Soundtrack – The Greatest Showman
  • Ed Sheeran – ÷ (Divide)

Grammy Award for Album of the Year and Nominees for 2018:

  • Kacey Musgraves – Golden Hour
  • Cardi B – Invasion of Privacy
  • Brandi Carlile – By the Way, I Forgive You
  • Post Malone – beerbongs & bentleys
  • Janelle Monáe – Dirty Computer
  • Black Panther: The Album, Music From and Inspired By

My Favorite Albums of 2018:

Album: American Utopia
Artist: David Byrne
Release Date: March 9, 2018
Label: Nonesuch | Todo Mundo
Favorite Tracks:

  • I Dance Like This
  • Every Day Is A Miracle
  • Dog’s Mind
  • Doing the Right Thing


Despite my Talking Heads fandom, I’ve never delved deep into David Byrne’s solo work.  His most recent album, American Utopia, seems like a good place to start especially since it’s release in 2018 it’s prompted a concert film directed by Spike Lee and a run on Broadway! The album addresses the crises of the Trump Era head on but does so in a way that pushes optimism.  This is going to sound like a back-handed compliment, but Byrne has a way of experimenting with music that has a wonderful sameness.  I guess that’s how he’s been able to be so successful at making quirky and innovative music that is also popular.  That is kind of a metaphor for the album itself where Byrne tries to draw a reassuring optimism from troubled times.

Now I’m going to have to try to watch the American Utopia film for my 50 Years 50 Movies project.

Rating: ***1/2

2018 Year in Review: Memorable Events

I started a tradition back in 1996 of making a list of the most memorable events of the year.  My definition of memorable can include both the positive and the negative, but generally it’s the good things that make the list.  That first list in 1996 had exactly twenty items, so I’ve made the list a top twenty every year since.

Here is my 23rd annual list.

  1. December 30 2017 – January 1, 2018 – New Year in Vermont

Technically, this partially occurred last year, but since I wrote last year’s list before it happened it didn’t make that list.  Anyhow, we finished out 2017/began 2018 with family and friends in Vermont which involved snow tubing, Anomia, Cataan, and a lot of Kathleens.

2. March 1 – New couch

We got a new couch.  It folds out into a bed.  It’s really fancy. We’re not used to fancy furniture.

3. March-September – Fantasy baseball

My son really wanted to play fantasy baseball so we put together a laid-back league of adults and children and had fun playing all season.  (my team finished third).

4. March 23 – NYBG Orchid Show

Flowers, flowers everywhere, even if it’s chilly outside.

5. March 23 – “Weird Al” concert

I saw “Weird Al” Yankovic in concert for the first time at the Apollo Theatre, of all places.  Also dined with good friends at Sylvia’s Restaurant.

6. Apri1 1-30 – I watched a ton of documentary films for the Blogging A-to-Z Challenge

7. April 15-20 – Great Wolf Lodge and North Carolina

We had a lovely spring break at the Williamsburg water park and then visiting family in North Carolina.

8. April-July – Youth Baseball

Once again my children had an exciting baseball season, my daughter in teeball, and my son at kid-pitch Junior level.  He even participated in the Mayor’s Cup Tournament!

9. June 10 – Bikes Not Bombs Bike-A-Thon

This fundraising ride is always a highlight.

10. June 17 – Father’s Day

As a whale of a dad, we celebrated the special day on the Stellwagen Bank on a whale watching journey.  We even saw a baby whale, bro!

11. June 28 – July 1 – Wolfe’s Neck Campground

A lovely weekend camping on the Maine coast with the added bonus of a goat hike!

12. July 21 – Janelle Monáe

We saw 2018’s top artist perform live and it was amazing.

13. August 14-18 – SAA Annual Meeting

I attended the Society of American Archivists annual meeting and even presented at the Archive-It Partner Meeting. When not learning about Archives, I got to enjoy some time in Washington, DC, and in the evenings I went to a DC United game and a Nationals game.

14. August 28 – September 1 – Chicago

Our summer vacation to Chicago included museums, parks, art, architecture, a Cubs game, a White Sox game and time spent with some fun cousins.

15. September 4 & November 6 – Primary Election and General Election

This was an important election year and I was pleased that Massachusetts candidates Ayanna Pressley, Rachael Rollins, Nika Elugardo, and Jon Santiago all won challenging primaries and eventually the general elections as well as the passage of Yes on 3 to protect equality for transgender people.  Not every election went as I liked, but significant steps forwards were made.

16. October  – The Red Sox win the World Series

It was another exciting Red Sox season, and we attended several Red Sox games.  Oddly, they lost a number of them including an 8-0 loss to the Mets in September (who I secretly cheered for while my children elbowed). But the Red Sox won when it counted, including the ALCS Game on October 14 that I attended with my son, and eventually the World Series.  We celebrated at the Red Sox Victory Parade on Halloween

17. October 31 – Halloween Trick or Treat

Recently on Halloween, I’ve stayed home to hand out candy, so I had the delight of joining my children – or should I say Bigfoot and a Ghost Chicken – as they collected loot in our neighborhood.

18. November 24 – Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island

I took my family on their first visit to these national monuments which included visiting Lady Liberty’s crown and finding the name of my great-grandmother on the Wall of Honor.

19. November 30 – December 2 – Birthday Celebration in New Hampshire

I turned 45 this year, but my kids – also November babies – had bigger parties.  So we celebrated late by staying in a cabin in New Hampshire’s White Mountains.  We enjoyed snow-shoeing and riding the Santaland Express.

20. Following up on last year, I had an ongoing activity that I can’t speak of online, but came to a joyous resolution this year.


2018 Year in Review: Favorite Books

Here’s my annual list of my ten favorite books read in the year.  As always, this is merely the best books I read this year and not necessarily books published in 2018  For previous years see 20172016201520142013201220112010200920082007 and 2006. You may also want to check out My Favorite Books of All Time or see Every Book I’ve Ever Read cataloged in Library Thing.

In alphabetical order:

Books Read in 2018

The books are rated on a scale from 1 to 5 stars with links to summary reviews. (A) is for audiobook.

Here’s a thumbnail of what the ratings mean:

  • 5 stars – all-time classic (I’m very stingy with these)
  • 4 stars – a particularly interesting, well-written, or important book
  • 3 stars – a good book from start to finish
  • 2 stars – not a good book on the whole but has some good parts
  • 1 star or less – basically a bad book with no redeeming values










October 1918



2018 Year in Review: Favorite Songs – The Top Five

If you haven’t read  Part 1 and Part 2 of this list, check them out for the full countdown before continuing.

And Now… The Top Five Songs of 2018!

5. “Nameless, Faceless” :: Courtney Barnett
4. “Make Me Feel” :: Janelle Monáe
3. “Tremelo” :: Young Fathers
2. “Black Willow” :: Loma
1. “No Going Back” :: Yuno




Favorite Songs by Year, 1973-2017

1973 1974 1975 1976
1977 1978 1979 1980
1981 1982 1983 1984
1985 1986 1987 1988
1989 1990 1991 1992
1993 1994 1995 1996
1997 1998 1999 2000
2001 2002 2003 2004
2005 2006 2007 2008
2009 2010 2011 2012
2013 2014 2015 2016

2018 Year in Review: Favorite Songs – Part 2

Read Part 1 of this list for Songs 25 to 16.
15. “Mambo Rapidito” ::  Orquesta Akokán

14. “Gallipoli” :: Beirut

13. “Sisters” :: Natalie Prass
12. “The Queen of New York” :: Tancred
11. “Once in a Lifetime” :: Angélique Kidjo
10. “Colonizer” ::  tUnE-yArDs
9. “Everybody Wants To Be Famous” :: Superorganism
8. “Nobody” :: Mitski
7. “Sleep” :: Hatchie

6. “Mujeres” :: Y La Bamba


What will be my #1 favorite song of 2018?  You’ll have to wait with breathless anticipation for my final post with the top five songs of the year!


Favorite Songs by Year, 1973-2017

1973 1974 1975 1976
1977 1978 1979 1980
1981 1982 1983 1984
1985 1986 1987 1988
1989 1990 1991 1992
1993 1994 1995 1996
1997 1998 1999 2000
2001 2002 2003 2004
2005 2006 2007 2008
2009 2010 2011 2012
2013 2014 2015 2016


2018 Year in Review: Favorite Songs – Part 1

It’s that time of the year for my list of favorite songs.  I’m doing things a little differently this year.  First, I have 25 songs to recognize this year (plus one honorable mention).  Second, I’m ranking them.  Third, I’ll be publishing the list over three posts today. I’ve limited the list to one song per artist, lest I just list the entirety of Dirty Computer.

Let’s get started!

Honorable Mention: “BAMM” :: Milo Manheim, Meg Donnelly, Kylee Russell (from Zombies)

25. “Hollywood (feat. Snoop Dogg & Jamie Principle)” :: Gorillaz

24. “Baby Luv” :: Nilüfer Yanya

23. “Tear Me to Pieces” :: Meg Myers

22. “Loneliest Girl” :: Princess Chelsea

21. “May Your Kindness Remain” :: Courtney Marie Andrews 

20. “Semicircle Song” :: The Go! Team 

19. “Future Me Hates Me” :: The Beths

18. “Under the Wheels” :: Calexico 

17. “In Your Beat” :: Django Django

16. “Before the Waters Get too High” :: Parquet Courts

Stay tuned for part two!

Favorite Songs by Year

1973 1974 1975 1976
1977 1978 1979 1980
1981 1982 1983 1984
1985 1986 1987 1988
1989 1990 1991 1992
1993 1994 1995 1996
1997 1998 1999 2000
2001 2002 2003 2004
2005 2006 2007 2008
2009 2010 2011 2012
2013 2014 2015 2016

2018 Year in Review: Favorite Albums

It’s the time of the year to list my favorite albums!  What follows are my ten favorite albums listed in alphabetical order by the artists.  Links in the album title go to my full review of the album.

Check out my lists of favorite albums from 20142016, and 2017 as well.

Tell Me How You Really Feel by Courtney Barnett

Wolastoqiyik Lintuwakonawa by Jeremy Dutcher

Sugar & Spice by Hatchie

Remain in Light by Angélique Kidjo

Acrylic by Leikeli47

Roza Cruz by La Mecánica Popular 

Dirty Computer by Janelle Monáe

Orquesta Akokán by Orquesta Akokán

Wide Awake! by Parquet Courts

Cocoa Sugar by Young Fathers

What are you reading in 2018?

In years past, I’ve made a list of books I plan to read in the coming year.  You can find my current Book List 2018 up in the navigation bar with a drop-down list for previous years.

I’ve made things less complicated this year instead of listing out books to read, I’m just going to use my existing wishlist at LibraryThing.  I will also be trying to keep track of audiobooks, books for my Around the World for a Good Book project, and books for  Book Riot’s 2018 Read Harder Challenge.

I will post the books that I’ve actually completed reading with a link to review and books I’m currently reading on the Book List 2018 page as well.  If you’re reading something good, I’d love to hear about it and I’m always happy to open a discussion of books on this blog.