Here are the books that Jarad has bought over the last month or so!
From Here to Eternity by Caitlin Doughty
The author of this book also has a youtube channel that I watch called Ask a Mortician where she talks about death and what she does as an alternative funeral director. That's where I first heard about her book, and I was very interested in reading it. I found it while browsing through Barnes and Noble and had to pick it up! In it, Caitlin explores death rituals around the world and analyzes why Western culture is so afraid of death and everything relating to it. So far it's been great and I look forward to reviewing it!
Review: An Ever Darkening Sky – Roy Peak
You may know Roy as our go-to music reviewer here at Sacred Chickens, but his music also provides many a work day soundtrack for me. I first got to know Roy’s music when I reviewed his first Album, All is Well. That album is still on my playlist, with its dark/light, sharply funny and straightforward emotions funneled through Roy’s gravelly voice and punk/folk fusion. So, I was excited about the new album and a little nervous about whether it would live up to my expectations.
I find I really love this album too, but in a different way. Nothing Roy does could ever be described at too mellow, but this country/folk blend strikes me as more at peace with the dissonance of life. As though, the singer has relaxed into the disappointments and absurdities of life and found beauty on the way down, like Alice opening cupboards on her strangely slow descent through the rabbit hole.
The songs on this album aren’t afraid to take their time and poke into whatever they can find under the ever-darkening sky. The last song, Not Enough Mermaids is a case in point. It’s unafraid to explore bending sounds that feel wet as the ocean, brushing warm against guitar strings, the pace is slow but forward moving.
Roy’s sense of humor is still at play in songs like Miss Ohio, who “wants to do right but not right now.” I feel for you Miss Ohio. I know just what you mean. My favorites are always the songs that read like stories, on this album right now that song is Sylvia, which paints a picture of love in the apocalypse, whether that's a real or metaphorical end of the world.
In fact, one of the things I love about Roy’s music is the narrative quality. Although, as a writer, I have a tendency to concentrate on lyrics, I find that Roy uses the music not only to provide the mood, but to help tell the story. In the title song, An Ever Darkening Sky, the clean, lithe opening pushes forward, but halts in short silent spaces, adding musical suspense. Every space makes you hope for a little more. The singer asks whether the rain will wash the pain away and the music adds momentum and promise of a dim hope somewhere ahead.
I really recommend this album, although I will warn you. I’ve woken up for the past week or so with Sylvia stuck in my head. But I think that’s a risk worth taking.
Roy Peak has played electric bass in more bands than he cares to remember for more years than he can remember. He wrote the theme song for the Utica, New York radio show "Hey You Kids, Get Off My Lawn" on WPNR-FM. His solo debut album, All Is Well, has been called "Loud, cacophonous, and beautiful by a truly unique artist." His short fiction has been published in The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature and he writes music reviews for the King Tut Vintage Album Museum of Jacksonville. Roy writes music reviews for the Rocking Magpie among others.
Morty is sharing his dream garden today!
Your Uncle Morty dreams every day of the garden he will create when this assignment is done, and he is allowed to return to the Netherworlds. Let’s imagine it together.
Here begins the blog of Uncle Morty:
I find that the weather has become less pleasant and I am expected to earn my keep by writing a blog post. (I am pictured at left warming my bones during the brief period of warmth.) After a difficult and somewhat depressing winter - things always go downhill for me after Halloween - I find that I must clear my empty skull of loose thoughts before I can write a proper essay. So before they begin to roll out my empty eye sockets like loose marbles, I have captured these random ideas and placed them here for your perusal. They come in no particular order.
On Civility - The Truth cannot appear friendly to a lie any more than a pediatric nurse appears friendly to a toddler getting shots. Liars loudly demand civility - never honesty.
On Understanding the Universe - Spend the morning playing with a kitten. It will give you a glimpse into the strange balance between tenderness and cruelty for which the Universe is justly famous. (Especially when you remember this delightful creature will shortly become a cat.)
On Other People - The more easily you can consign someone's soul to Hell, the more easily you can consign their body to the grave.
On Evil - No one wakes up one morning and decides to be evil. Most evil people don't know they're evil. They begin by seeing evil in others and attempting to root it out. The more you try to root out the evil in other people without looking in your mirror, the more you can justify treating them poorly, even doing the same things you accuse them of without feeling bad about it. Then one morning, you wake up...and you're evil. Other people will know. You never will.
On Listening - If you're afraid that listening to someone else's viewpoint will confuse you or give you doubts. You're right. Uncle Morty approves of that. It's called "being human." If you meet people whose entire philosophy of life or religion consists of listening only to themselves and other people who recite the same list of beliefs, please take my advice and run.
On Being Alive - Don't be dead while you're alive. Be Alive.
Jarad is airing his grievances today! Here are some of the things that annoy him when he's reading!
1. Bad writing- I know it's obvious, but when a book has a great plot and is poorly written it really bugs me. Maybe the dialogue is wooden and the characters come off as really bad actors. Or maybe the descriptions are so thin and boring that I can’t picture myself in the setting. I could've been swept away by that book but if I'm too distracted by poor writing it ruins the entire experience
Here's some of our favorite children's books! Mekayla Trout, who has done some book reviews for us before, is also contributing to the post today!
Julie- I’m not quite as old as Uncle Morty, but I’m digging back into my childhood for recommendations. I am going to recommend Frog and Toad and Winnie the Pooh. All of our readers already know my brain is spring-besotted and flower-obsessed, and both these book series put me in mind of gardens, forests, rain on the roof, tea shared with friends. In fact, I think if you could take a tiny peek into the real estate of my brain, you would find a good portion taken up by the Hundred Acre Wood. It’s bordered by the River where Frog and Toad swim. Toad’s flower garden is there too, the one he agonizes over until the first seedlings sprout.
Not only are these books part of my inner gardenscape, both series focus on the importance of deep abiding friendships, even when your friends are as grumpy as Toad, as sad as Eeyore, as scatterbrained as Pooh, or as frightened as Piglet. I know that there are lots of new, great book series out there for kids, but these books are still close to my heart, and they haunt my gardens, a lovely, hovering dream.
Jarad- The books I loved as a child were classic fantasy: great, burgeoning quests, witches, wizards, dragons were mostly what I read, and any book with those themes I immediately devoured. I made it my mission to read all those that I could find in both the school and the public library (consequently, Halloween will always be my favorite holiday). I'm located in the South, and I know a lot of people who were restricted in their reading as a child, and I'm lucky that those ridiculous rules were never imposed on me. The Hobbit, Harry Potter, and the Lost Years of Merlin series come to mind. As a result, I was often lost in my head most of the time (and sometimes still am). I was also always reading under the table during math class because who needs adding or division when you have book? My teacher, unfortunately, did not see it that way. Apparently, math is essential or something.
Today Jarad is sharing what his dream garden might look like!
I’ve been home all week on spring break, and I’ve known that I would be writing this post the whole time, so I’ve had the opportunity to give this some thought. Naturally, I’ve been doing some preparatory work for my garden this year, and as I was doing that, I was thinking about this question. What is my dream garden?
Part 1: Literary Heroes
“The written word endures.” Neil Postman.
Words can make and unmake worlds. Sometimes we forget how powerful they are, but every once in a while, it’s important to remember what people can do with words, from revival to revolution. From time to time here at Sacred Chickens, we like to remember those who use words effect change or call out evil, perhaps inspiring a new generation to do the same.
Written by Robert Graves
Review by Jarad Johnson
Usually, I love reading about the political maneuvering made in the ancient Greek and Roman senate's. It fascinates me, as do all things involving politics. However, I found this book to be the exact opposite. It was laborious, difficult to focus on. I would find myself drifting off every few pages, unable to recreate the rich world of the Roman Senate, which this book drained of life. I’m sure the life of the Emperor Claudius would be fascinating, but the verbosity of this book reduced it to boring paragraphs, textbook style writing that frankly is a disservice to the ancient Emperor. What frustrates me most is that this book could have been enthralling, and had it been written differently I could see myself flying through this book. As it stands, the only reason I trudged through it was so I could review it.
Today Morty is sharing his five favorite genres!
Your Uncle Morty has been tasked with listing his five favorite genres for a blog post. These genres will be meaningless to the living in all likelihood, however, never let it be said I don’t help out when I’m asked. I do read some of the same genres as the skin-covered, but I tend to stick to books that deal more strictly with my current condition.