Saturday, September 26, 2015


In my early thirties I compiled lists of the albums, books and movies which had to that point been favourites or left an impression. One for every year. I've been adding to it each birthday since.

This being my fortieth I guess it is a bit of a milestone. It was a good year for reading, especially.

Here they are then: the film, album, novel and book that left the greatest impression on me this year. Only one of them actually came out recently, but they were all new for me.

Together with the prior entries (in the tabs above) they round out a sort of life-top-40.

NOVEL #40:
The Crossing - Cormac McCarthy

(runners up: Marilynne Robinson, Gilead & Home)

FILM #40: 
Calvary - John Michael McDonagh

(runner up: Two Days, One Night)

ALBUM #40:
Helplessness Blues - Fleet Foxes

(runners up: Dawes, All Your Favorite Bands &  Sufjan Stevens, Carrie and Lowell)

BOOK #40:
Ethics - Dietrich Bonhoeffer

(runner up: Pope Francis, Laudato Si)

I highly recommend all of these. Especially those novels: wow. Click the pictures for links. 

Thursday, September 17, 2015

An Open Question to City Council (about Chalk)


We live on a street with a cul-de-sac in ___. We are getting complaints (twice, but they say others agree with them) about our kids writing on the street with chalk. The second complaint said kids shouldn't be out on the street "unsupervised". But this literally three doors down, in a cul de sac, in front of the kids' friends' houses.

Our children generally scoot or bike or play tag, stay off others' property, and only use a soft ball which wouldn't hurt anything even if it made contact.

Can someone contact me, please, to discuss the proper by-laws and unwritten rules about kids playing in neighbourhoods? Do children have rights as well as responsibilities? Rights to play on their block without harassment, as long as private property and noise levels are respected? (Neither of these are a problem, our kids are in by 7:30).

I would particularly be interested to know: if children are not to be on the street or cul de sac, can we demand that the side walks not be cluttered up with cars?

Thank you for any help you can give me. Wanting to be peaceable, but also to know what's right from what's people being grumpy and unreasonable.

 Jon Coutts

(Update: I'm informed that my letter has been forwarded to Highways and Traffic. And, for what it's worth, we are complying with neighbour requests).

Monday, September 07, 2015

Sufjan in Bristol

Sufjan Stevens, "Should Have Known Better" (Photo Chris Davies)
This is a shot from the Sufjan Stevens concert in Bristol, England, last night. It was aesthetically gorgeous and emotionally devastating all at once. Sufjan didn't say a word until very late in the show, but I've never seen anyone give so much of themselves to an audience. In Colston Hall, the clapping waited an extra beat until we were sure each song was over: there was just so much attention to detail and quiet moments of beauty, no one wanted to ruin anything. We were spellbound. Someone on twitter described it as if they'd been down to the river to pray.