Some favorite albums, books, TV shows, movies, and in-depth stories from 2013

Here’s a look back at some of my favorites from last year.

Albums

My pick: “Modern Vampires of the City,” by Vampire Weekend.

Here’s “Obvious Bicycle“:

And “Diane Young“:

Runner-up album:

Beta Love,” by Ra Ra Riot. Here’s the title track.

Honorable mentions: Sky Ferreira’s “Night Time, My Time,” Daft Punk’s “Random Access Memories,” and Lorde’s “Pure Heroine.”

Books

Of the books I read last year, two stand out, not least because they were written by pals.

First: Matt Gross’s “The Turk Who Loved Apples: And Other Tales of Losing My Way Around the World.”

2014 01 08 turk who loved apples

This may not come as a surprise, since I’ve written about Matt’s work before.

The New York Times called the book “a joyful meditation on the spontaneity and unpredictability of the traveling life,” and said:

Gross ruminates on the loneliness of the road, the evanescent friendships that occasionally blossom into something deeper, the pleasures of wandering through cities without a map. Now settled in Brooklyn with his wife and daughters, he leaves little doubt that all his years of near-constant travel have only whetted his appetite for more. “The world,” he writes, has become “a massively expanding network of tiny points where anything at all could happen, and within each point another infinite web of possibilities.”

Worth checking out.

And second: “The Accidental Playground: Brooklyn Waterfront Narratives of the Undesigned and Unplanned,” by Dan Campo.

2014 01 08 accidental playground

The Times included the book in a piece called “Suggested Reading for de Blasio,” and wrote:

Daniel Campo, a former New York City planner, considers the serendipitous development of Williamsburg and concludes: “In contrast to urban space produced through conventional planning and design, the accidental playground that evolved on the North Brooklyn waterfront generated vitality through immediate and largely unmeditated action. The waterfront was there for the claiming, and people went out and did just that without asking for permission, holding meetings or making plans.”

Indeed, it’s worth a read.

TV shows

2014 01 09 breaking bad

There can be only one.

Movies

I haven’t yet seen many of the year’s most talked-about films, but I liked “Gravity” and “This is the End.” 2013 films I still intend to watch: “12 Years a Slave,” “The Act of Killing,” “Inside Llewyn Davis,” and “Computer Chess.”

Stories

And finally, here are some in-depth stories, blog posts, reviews, and other pieces of writing I liked this year:

    Thailand protests update: a few links to share

    A quick follow-up to my post Tuesday about anti-amnesty demonstrations morphing into an effort to topple Yingluck.

    Here’s what’s up:

    1. The general strike fizzled, as the AP reports.

    2. Have we reached a stalemate? The the big picture, again from the AP: Thaksin isn’t returning to Thailand anytime soon. Yingluck and the ruling Pheu Thai party over-reached in pushing the amnesty bill. But Yingluck and the Thaksin-linked party still have an electoral mandate.

    3. For a look at the protests’ economic impact, here’s a Wall Street Journal Q&A with Paiboon Nalinthrangkurn, chair of the Federation of Thai Capital Market Organization.

    4. Protests, though smaller now, continue.

    Tweets of the day…

    …just now from China’s official Xinhua news agency:

    10 links

    1. Dogs Are People, TooThe New York Times
    2. List of common misconceptions — Wikipedia
    3. The Political Economy of Zombies — The Airship
    4. How to beat jet lag — Kottke.org
    5. How Brazil’s Richest Man Lost $34.5 Billion — BloombergBusinessweek
    6. 11 Pieces of Obamacare Conventional Wisdom That Shouldn’t Be So Conventional — Megan McArdle at Bloomberg.com
    7. Every Sci-Fi Starship Ever*, In One Mindblowing Comparison Chart — Kotaku
    8. I’m walking every street in New York City — ImJustWalkin.com
    9. Putting Time In Perspective — wait but why
    10. Video embedded above and on YouTube here: “Flying eagle point of view.”

    (Previous link round-ups are available via the links tag.)

    ‘Warning: Trains Arrive on Time’

    An entertaining headline and story from The Bangkok Post today:

    Rail passengers in Phitsanulok are being warned that trains stopping there will be more punctual during the 45-day track maintenance period for the far northern railway, and should ensure they arrive at the station on time so they don’t miss their train.

    Saksing Wongsanguansodsri, chief ticket officer at Phitsanulok station, said trains will no longer be up to two hours late, as in the past, because the south-bound service would now leave from Sila-art station in Uttaradit, which is only about 100km away, and not Chiang Mai, which is 362km distant.