• Brit rock is notoriously chilly stuff, but Oregon-native Mat Kearney kicks its core temperature up a few degrees on his sophomore album, City of Black & White. Jangling riffs and cool melodies are cut with Springsteen-esque arena rock and Kearney's voice, which is warm as wood smoke or a sip of single malt. Noteworthy songs include "Closer To Love," "Fire and Rain," "All I Have" and the title track.Go to Diversions: Autumn 2009 ...
• If you've read this blog for any period of time, you know that my heart beats for genre fiction. You not be aware, though, how much I wish its authors showed a little more literary moxie, a basic understanding of how to make language leap and sing. There's little reason not to educate ourselves in it, particularly given the wealth of free resources online. For example, Paul Brians has posted the entirety of his Common Errors in English Usage on the Washington State University Web site, so you have no excuse for confusing abstruse with obtuse or misspelling queue. Another great volume (and a surprisingly engaging read) is Thrall and Hibbard's 1960 edition of A Handbook To Literature, available for download at the Internet Archive. Never have definitions of terms such as autotelic, mythopoeic and Wardour-Street English been so entertaining.
• While we're discussing literature, the short film New Boy shows just how literary stories ought to be told. This Oscar-nominated tale of an orphaned African boy trying to find his way in the Irish school system doesn't do much new. It simply focuses on universal human experience and remembers to keep things moving. Might sound old-school, but Boy somehow makes it seem novel.
• Remember that roly-poly man in red and white who terrified you as a child? Remember how he had clammy palms and smelled vaguely of licorice and body odor? Now you can relive all of the long-repressed horror at Sketchy Santas, a menagerie of the freakiest Saint Nicks ever captured on film. Beware of hung-over Santa and caterpillar-eyebrow Santa and irrepressibly jolly-even-during-adversity Santa. (Hat Tip: Neil Gaiman's Journal)
(Picture: CC 2006 by Anders B.)