Category Archives: Diversions

The stuff that didn’t fit elsewhere.

A definitive ranking of Hallelujahs

I had a hankerin’ for some Jeff Buckley “Hallelujah” the other day, so I fired up the ol’ Amazon Music machine and played it. And then it played everything titled “Hallelujah” forever and ever amen, and I listened to every “Hallelujah” cover until it hit Panic! At The Disco’s “Hallelujah,” which isn’t a Leonard Cohen cover at all. Listening to nine different covers of “Hallelujah” in a row may not be a particularly productive use of one’s time but it is not unpleasant.

  1. The Canadian Tenors
  2. Kelley Mooney
  3. Tori Kelly
  4. Pentatonix
  5. Rufus Wainwright
  6. Leonard Cohen
  7. Brandi Carlile
  8. KD Lang
  9. Jeff Buckley

In our final analysis, Jeff Buckley’s version remains My Favorite Version of “Hallelujah.” KD Lang and Brandi Carlile are awfully close, though. “Hallelujah” needs to have a little grit and gravel to it. The Canadian Tenors are lovely singers, but they do not bring the grit nor the gravel. See also: Tori Kelly or Pentatonix.

Ye Olde 2018 Reading Roundup

I set out to read 40 books this year, and I ended up reading 51.

My presidential biography project got sidelined a bit this year, which is probably why I read more. I tend to either take comfort from the fact that we’ve been arguing about the same national issues since the beginning or I get irritated about it, and I found myself getting irritated more than comforted this year.

I still read a lot of nonfiction this year, though, and some of those titles were my favorites of the year. In no particular order, here are my Top Seven Reads of 2018:

“Let’s Go (So We Can Get Back)” by Jeff Tweedy. I probably would’ve enjoyed this regardless because I love Wilco, but this is so well written, funny and moving that I think it would be enjoyable even to non-Wilco fans.

“The Broken Earth” series by NK Jemisin. OK, so this is technically three books. But it’s a wonderful and different sci-fi/fantasy series and I think you should read it.

“No Turning Back: Life, Love and Hope in Wartime Syria” by Rania Abouzeid. This is not a light breezy read, but it will give you a new perspective on the Middle East.

“Vacationland: True Stories from Painful Beaches” by John Hodgman. This made me laugh out loud, and I read a lot of passages to Rockford. It’s terrific.

Thanks as always to Goodreads for helping me keep track of all of this!

A personal insight into modern military history

Coley Tyler grew up in Western North Carolina and decided at a very young age to pursue a career in the military. He writes about that in his new book “Ghosts of Fallujah” — but I already knew that part.

I grew up with Coley, and while I didn’t have a clue what I wanted to be when I grew up, we all know what Coley would be doing: He was going to go to West Point, and he was going to serve his country. We knew it just like we knew that picking the stop-sign pizza in the cafeteria was a pretty good idea, that getting on Mr. Shields’ bad side was a very bad idea and that the cross country team was probably going to win state every year. It was just part of our collective local knowledge. It was known.

The part of the book that was news to me was just what he was doing after West Point. And let me tell you: He’s done a lot.

Coley served with the Second Battalion, Seventh Cavalry, in the Second Battle of Fallujah, which was the largest engagement of the Iraq War. His recounting of the battle itself and the days leading up to it give the reader a clear understanding of what a complex undertaking a U.S. military operation is and what the personal cost of it can be.

Coley’s respect for the military at large and for his battalion, commanders and fellow soldiers specifically is obvious throughout the book. I would recommend “Ghosts of Fallujah” to anyone looking to gain a deeper understanding of modern military history.