Favorite Songs of 2019

Here’s a list of my top songs for this year, in an order that might be surprisingly mixable. These are not necessarily from 2019; I just happened to have heard them in the last twelve months.

Love Song, by Lana Del Rey on Norman Fucking Rockwell!
Married in a Gold Rush, by Vampire Weekend feat. Danielle Haim on Father of the Bride
Cracking Codes, by Andrew Bird on My Finest Work Yet
Gloria, by The Lumineers on III
Hustle, by P!nk on Hurts 2B Human
Paper Rings, by Taylor Swift on Lover
Bad Guy, by Billie Eilish on When We Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?
Make It Right, by BTS on Map of the Soul: Persona
Some Kind of Love, by Dido on Still on My Mind
Orpheus, by Sara Bareilles on Amidst the Chaos
Falling for Boys, by Julia Michaels on Inner Monologue Part 2

Digital Boy, by Serena Jade (Live from the Rockwood Music Hall, NYC, 8-3-2019)
Stupid Things, by Keane on Cause and Effect
Allergic, by Post Malone on Hollywood’s Bleeding
I Was Terrible, by How to Dress Well on Care
Young Enough, by Charly Bliss on Young Enough
Billie Jean, by Weezer on Weezer (Teal Album)
Real Love, by Carly Rae Jepsen on Dedicated
Feels Good, by Lissie on Castles
Light on, by Maggie Rogers on Heard It in a Past Life

Many good tunes here, but I really dug the Charly Bliss song. Hugely anthemic, Young Enough just soars and soars.

Haiku and Reviews: Saga, To Catch a Thief, Rear Window

A Horn and a Wing
star-crossed lovers in wartime
trying to save their child.

I don’t read comic books often, but I think it’s about time I started to, because if they are anything like Saga, I’ve been missing out big time.  Saga is written by Brian K. Vaughan and drawn by Fiona Staples, and it’s been going on for years (the title of the series is very apt) — since 2012.  I just caught up to the last issue, #42, and it is a humdinger.  Even though this story takes place in another world, in space, the kind of stuff you’d expect from comic books, it is extremely accessible and very much a story for our times.  It’s got elements of Romeo and Juliet and Star Wars, and it’s just an epic, epic story.  Great characters, exciting storylines, what we love about fiction.

She drives her car as
if the road does not exist.
All for a picnic.

A single suitcase.
Pink gown, pink slippers, for night.
Then we hear the scream.

Old movies, these two.  Both by Alfred Hitchcock, and both starring Grace Kelly.  To Catch a Thief felt a bit more dated than Rear Window; it is definitely the lesser of the two films, though still quite entertaining, especially the scene where Kelly drives Cary Grant to a picnic lunch.  Even though I’d seen parts of Rear Window before, I never actually sat down to watch the whole movie from start to finish, and I must say, I think it’s my new favorite Hitchcock (Vertigo was my previous #1).  Not only are the lines hilarious (especially Thelma Ritter’s Stella but really, all the characters), the movie is really about movies — how we all are voyeurs when we watch.  The script is impeccable, the balance between humor and suspense just right.  Also, there are times when Grace Kelly here is so incredibly beautiful that I almost had to avert my eyes!  What great casting — she had to be the perfect woman, and she delivers in form and function.  This is a very difficult part for Jimmy Stewart to play, too, as he’s stuck in that wheelchair and so much of his acting is subtle expressions.  There are so many scenes where he has no one to act against, just himself with his camera or his binoculars, reacting to what he sees.  Rear Window is just a gem of a movie.  Roger Ebert, as always, does a fantastic job of reviewing this film.  Watch it, and then read him.

Interview in Slice Magazine

The lovely folks at Slice were kind enough to conduct this interview with both myself and artist Dina Brodsky.  Last fall, they published our work, Desert Places, in the magazine, and now you can read it online in addition to the interview.  Here’s their intro:

After all of the pieces for an issue of Slice have been edited, we send them over to our art director, Jennifer K. Beal Davis, who then strikes up a dialogue between art and prose. Jennifer and associate art director Matt Davis have a knack for selecting artwork that invites the reader to look at a story, an essay, or a poem in an unexpected way.

When writer Sung J. Woo mentioned that he’d written some stories that were inspired by Dina Brodsky’s paintings, we were immediately intrigued. What if we could capture an even more deliberate conversation between writer and artist?

We published “Desert Places,” which is posted below, in Issue 19 of Slice. What follows is an interview between Sung and Dina about their collaborative creative process.

Read on!

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Columbia Journal: Cycling Guide to Lilliput (11-13)

Check out the latest batch of my ekphrastic endeavor in Columbia Journal, the magazine published by Columbia University School of the Arts Graduate Writing program.  It’s available online, three little interrelated stories inspired by the fantastic paintings of Dina Brodsky.  FYI, the first ten of these flash fiction stories can be found in Juked.