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Posts tagged "2012"

Jan 01, 2013

My watching year, 2012

10 great movies I saw this year:

Bernie (2011) - The movie I recommended most to everybody this year. Works for parents, grandparents, hipster friends, etc.

Barry Lyndon (1975) - This movie blew me away. I never considered myself a Kubrick fan, but this made me want to go rewatch all of his movies.

Beauty Is Embarrassing (2012) - While Jiro Dreams of Sushi was a portrait of heads-down mastery and craft, this film captured the kind of artistic life I’m shooting for — one full of humor, family, and multiple mediums.

Argo (2012) - I remember turning to my wife in the theater and saying, “Is it just me, or is this really good?” Affleck is 3/3.

13 Assassins (2011) - Straight-up, kickass samurai movie.

Jiro Dreams of Sushi (2012) - Honestly, although I enjoyed it, I’m tempted to call this one of the most overrated movies of the year, simply because some of my artist friends acted like it unlocked The Secret of Life for them or something. It’s great food porn and a beautiful portrait of a master craftsman, but it’s also a portrait that shows a man completely absorbed in his work, his shadowed sons stuck carrying on his legacy, and his wife literally out of the picture. (At his request, she wasn’t shown/interviewed for the movie.)

Thief (1981) - So badass. The ancestor of Drive.

The Queen of Versailles (2012) - Damn, those filmmakers were lucky.

Haywire (2012) - Best Soderbergh of the year was a tossup between this and Magic Mike. More asses were kicked in this movie, so it wins.

The trailers for The Master (2012) - A movie that was better in my head before I saw it, but still beautiful and technically amazing and wonderfully acted and puzzling and just fucking weird. Can’t wait to rewatch on blu-ray.

And 10 11 more:

(I didn’t get to see Django Unchained.)

Favorite TV: Louie, Game of Thrones, Justified, Girls, Mad Men, Downton Abbey, Sherlock, and Seinfeld reruns.

Most of my movie recs come from @jamesfflynn, @mlarson, and @mattthomas.

See my favorite movies from 2010 and 2011.

Dec 21, 2012

My listening year, 2012

Here’s a bunch of good new-to-me music I listened to in 2012. I’m stealing my friend Mark Larson’s format for this post — it struck me this year that when I think about the music that hits me, it always comes with a context, it’s always the soundtrack to some moment. Follow me on Rdio to hear more of what I like…


January is the month I catch up with 2011 music, and everyone I know seemed to love this Yuck record. It’s good “drowning out” music, perfect for the bus.


I have a friend who’s recommended Lambchop to me for a few years, but Mr. M turned out to be the gateway drug. Love, love, love this record, and it wound up putting me to sleep in a lot of hotel rooms on book tour.

Maybe the sonic opposite, I liked the Cloud Nothings’ Attack on Memory, especially the song “Fall In,” which is what I want Green Day to sound like.


Lee Fields’ Faithful Man was my Rocky music — the album I played to feel good, to get psyched up in my hotel room while I was getting ready to give a talk. I think I played “You’re The Kind of Girl” more than any other song this year.


My friend Jed played me Future Islands’ On The Water while he was driving me around San Diego, so now whenever I hear it I think of fish tacos and the ocean.

My buddy sent me one of the singles off Grimes’ Visions about a year ago and I loved it. The album’s pretty great, too.

My wife and I listened to Andrew Bird’s Break It Yourself a lot while cooking dinner.


Somehow, despite being a Beatles nut, I’d somehow failed to hear Paul McCartney’s Ram. When I did, half of indie music suddenly made sense.

My friend Christy got me into Here We Go Magic’s A Different Ship — they really haven’t made a bad album.

Speaking of not making bad albums, Jack White’s Blunderbuss is another notch in his belt.


Okay, so Bobby Womack wasn’t new to me, but I got to see him live in June, and I listened to most of his back catalog this year. (I wore out the wonderful single, “Please Forgive My Heart,” but found the rest of Bravest Man In The Universe pretty boring.) If you need a place to start with him, look no further than his Anthology.

Other records I listened to in June: King Tuff, Lotus Plaza, and The Walkmen, who, album for album, have made some of my favorite music in the past decade.


July I was finally home from book tour, but I then spent most of the month traveling in the car with my wife. We listened to Norah Jones’ Broken Little Hearts and then I listened to a bunch of her old stuff — I like her one before BLH, The Fall, a lot too.

Caught up on Adele’s 21.

Dirty Projector’s Swing Lo Magellan is great, saw them in Austin when they came to town.


August, and the rest of the year, belonged to Frank Ocean’s channel ORANGE. If Watch The Throne was 2011's car album, this was 2012's.


Surprised how much I liked Dwight Yoakum’s 3 Pears, especially the two Beck-produced tracks.

Listened to a lot of Roxy Music, and liked Divine Fit’s A Thing Called Divine Fits and Digital Leather’s Modern Problems


We spent most of October trying to get my wife to go into labor, so there were a lot of candle-lit evenings with Frank Sinatra’s In The Wee Small Hours playing while she soaked in the tub.

Also liked the Deep Time record and Jonny Greenwood’s soundtrack for The Master.


My kiddo was born in late October, so when we brought him home, I tried to play Gonzales’ Solo Piano II to chill him out, but it turned out that what really worked was My Bloody Valentine’s Loveless, which I thought I knew in-and-out, but I listened to so much with him that it started to sound new. He also really likes reggae, so we listened to the soundtrack for Marley a lot.


I’ve been working to the reissue of the first three Gil Scott-Heron albums, The Revolution Begins and making my way through the Gram Parsons back catalog.

Bonnie Raitt’s Slipstream is actually really great and well-produced.

Currently catching up on a ton of music I missed, including Solange’s EP, and local Austin, Texas band The Young’s Dub Egg, which has some wonderful pedal steel and sounds a lot like Crazy Horse.

OK! Lemme know your favorite album of 2012 here or over on Twitter: @austinkleon

My previous listening years: 2011 and 2010,

Dec 12, 2012

15 good books I read in 2012

A strange reading year with not enough comics or novels in it. In no particular order…

Book I couldn’t believe wasn’t more popular
Tim Kreider’s We Learn Nothing

Book that introduced me to one of my new favorite thinkers
Sarah Bakewell’s How To Live: Or A Life Of Montaigne

Book I probably pimped more than my own
Mike Monteiro’s Design Is A Job

Favorite novel I read that isn’t really a novel in any conventional sense
Padgett Powell’s The Interrogative Mood

Books read about reading
Pierre Bayard’s How to Talk About Books You Haven’t Read and Alan Jacobs’ The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction

Best book about how art works
David Byrne’s How Music Works

Best book about my favorite musical era
Will Hermes’ Love Goes to Buildings on Fire: Five Years in New York That Changed Music Forever

Best book with the ugliest cover
Susan Cain’s Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Won’t Stop Talking

Book I thought I would hate that I actually liked a lot
Alain de Botton’s Religion for Atheists: A Non-believer’s Guide to the Uses of Religion

Book I can’t believe I’m putting on this list but it was actually super helpful
Pamela Druckerman’s Bringing Up Bébé: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting

Book that made me laugh a lot
Gary Shteyngart’s Super Sad True Love Story

Book I’d never read that was adapted into a movie I’ve probably seen a dozen times
Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?

Best book (only book) I read this year that mentioned Tommy Wiseau’s The Room
Tom Bissell’s Magic Hours: Essays on Creators and Creation

Best book that I should’ve spread throughout the year, but gobbled up in one chunk
Jonathan Lethem, The Ecstasy of Influence

See my past reading years 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006

What should I read next year?

Nov 24, 2012

2012 Holiday Shopping Guide

Here’s a bunch of stuff that made my life better this year that I think a wide range of other people would like, too. It’s all $5-$25, so great for stocking stuffers or people on a budget.

Beauty Is Embarrassing: The Wayne White Story - While Jiro Dreams of Sushi was a portrait of heads-down mastery and craft, this film captured the kind of artistic life I’m shooting for — one full of humor, family, and multiple mediums. $25

Gonzales, Solo Piano II - Beautiful, relaxing solo piano pieces that are perfect for working, cooking dinner, or trying to get a baby to sleep. $12

How To Live: A Life of Montaigne by Sarah Bakewell - Montaigne has been dead almost 500 years, but he reads like he’s writing about today. Bakewell’s biography does a good job of putting him in a context. You might want to add the complete essays and make it a gift set. $15

Cosmonaut iPad Stylus - Hands down, my favorite iPad stylus. Feels like drawing with a big fat crayon. Love it. $25

Bernie - I don’t know anybody who didn’t like this movie. One of Linklater’s best, and a great look at small-town Texas. $12

Design is a Job by Mike Monteiro - This isn’t just a book about design. It’s a book for anybody involved in creative work. I talked to a lot of design students and agency folks this year, and I probably pimped this book to them more than my own. $18

Hearos Foam Earplugs - Got me through long flights, noisy hotel rooms, and nights with a loud newborn. Highest cost/benefit ratio ever. $5

The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction by Alan Jacobs - A wonderful read about reading. Would make a great gift set bundled with How To Talk About Books You Haven’t Read. $13

Moleskine small hardcover pocket notebooks - Smaller than the classic Moleskines so they fit in a shirt pocket. I carry one of these everywhere. $10

Paper Mate Flair Felt-Tip Pens - They feel good to write with and they give you a nice fat line that doesn’t bleed to badly. $10

Frank Ocean, Channel Orange - My most-played album this year, and the album my wife and I can agree on in the car. $7

Barry Lyndon - Holy shit, this movie blew me away. So good. $11

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick - Blade Runner is one of my favorite movies, but I’d never read the novel it was based on. The writing can get a tad clunky in spots, but it’s a great read. $8

Lambchop, Mr. M - There were many, many times this year when I sat at my desk and though, “What should I listen to? Eh, fuck it, I’ll listen to this Lambchop record again.” $10

We Learn Nothing by Tim Kreider - A terrific book of funny, thoughtful essays about relationships and the “insoluble problem of being a person in the world.” $13

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