5 Forthcoming Reviews

Just a short “in the mail” post today to share five reviews you can expect to read here in the coming weeks and months:

 

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  1. First Raise a Flag: How South Sudan Won the Longest War but Lost the Peace (Oxford University Press)  

    This book just arrived in the mail yesterday. Some years ago I read a few books on the Rwandan genocide, and have had occasional interest in African history. Time to reactivate that interest and learn more about what’s been happening in Sudan. (LINK)

     

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  2. The 13.1 GoneForaRun running journal  

    It will be hard to top the Believe training journal I use now, but this one looks good so far. (LINK)

     

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  3. Old Testament Hebrew vocabulary cards  

    I learned Hebrew using these more than 10 years ago; now the Basics of Biblical Hebrew suite from Zondervan is in a new edition, so I’m re-learning with the updated cards. (LINK)

     

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  4. A sweet leather wallet from Galen Leather  

    It holds a pen! Cards! A notebook! Money! (money sold separately) It looks, feels, and smells amazing. (LINK)

     

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  5. Harvard Business Review’s new book, Why Do So Many Men Become Incompetent Leaders? (and how to fix it)  

    I just finished the book yesterday, so will probably post about that next. (LINK)

Bonhoeffer’s Last Words, Before He Was Hanged (74 Years Ago Today)

 

Source: German Federal Archive
Source: German Federal Archive

 

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was hanged in the Nazi concentration camp of Flossenbürg on April 9, 1945, just two weeks before the U.S. military came to liberate it.

John W. de Gruchy describes the lead-up to that day in his Editor’s Introduction to Letters and Papers from Prison (Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works, volume 8):

On October 8 [of 1944], Bonhoeffer was taken to the cellar of the Gestapo prison on Prinz-Albrecht-Straße, where he stayed until February 7, 1945. From then on, all correspondence came to an end, and contact between Bonhoeffer and the family and [Eberhard] Bethge was broken. From there Bonhoeffer was taken first to Buchenwald and then, via the village of Schönberg in Bavaria, to the Flossenbürg concentration camp, where he arrived on April 8. That evening he was tried by a hastily rigged court and condemned to death. Early the next morning Bonhoeffer was executed along with several other coconspirators.

He was hanged April 9. His family would not learn about it for several months.

The July before he had written to his trusted friend (and later biographer) Eberhard Bethge, one day after the failed assassination attempt on Hitler’s life. He wrote:

How should one become arrogant over successes or shaken by one’s failures when one shares in God’s suffering in the life of this world? You understand what I mean even when I put it so briefly. I am grateful that I have been allowed this insight, and I know that it is only on the path that I have finally taken that I was able to learn this. So I am thinking gratefully and with peace of mind about past as well as present things. …

May God lead us kindly through these times, but above all, may God lead us to himself.

His final recorded words before his hanging are especially appropriate in these days that lead up to Easter Sunday:

This is the end–for me the beginning of life.

 


 

This post is adapted from a post I wrote around this time five years ago, as part of the “Tuesdays in Lent with Bonhoeffer” I was doing. See other gathered posts here.

Two More Winners from Run Fast. Cook Fast. Eat Slow.

We’re continuing to enjoy the recipes from Run Fast. Cook Fast. Eat Slow. by Shalane Flanagan and Elyse Kopecky (publisher page / Amazon). (And we still use its predecessor, Run Fast. Eat Slow.) I think it’s safe to say that recently the majority of prepared foods in our house has used one of those two cookbooks.

Two more yummy ones to show in this post. First, the ultra-healthy Grain Salad, for which you can use quinoa or any other grain you have in the house.

 

A snippet of what’s in the book

 

Yum yum.

 

That salad was dee-lish-us.

I was eager to try the cardamom granola recipe, however aged our cardamom might be! I tripled the recipe so that we’d have some to share.

 

Recipe snippet

 

Used the biggest bowl I could find

 

 

It came out great. If anything, the recipe could have called for more cardamom; its taste wasn’t very pronounced, but that could be because some of my spice had lost its flavor over time.

Oh, and have I mentioned the superhero muffins? If you loved them from the first cookbook, this follow-up offers more variations. Lots of great grab-and-go (but healthy and nourishing) snack ideas here.

I’ve barely even gotten into the book’s racing tips and overarching eating/kitchen strategies; we’ve been so eager to just go the the recipes. But it’s got some really useful big picture stuff, too, like a compelling section on why the book doesn’t include calorie counts. And there are chapters devoted to things like “Jump-Start Your Kitchen” (chapter two) and some of Shalane’s training routine (the third chapter, “Rise & Run”).

This cookbook/guidebook is definitely a worthy sequel, and has a prominent place among our cookbooks. You can check out the Run Fast. Eat Slow. website here.

 


 

Thanks to the publisher for sending a copy of Run Fast. Cook Fast. Eat Slow., sent so I could review it, but with no expectation as to the nature or content of my review.

American Football’s New LP3: Best In Class, Ever

A couple dozen listens in, here’s how I was feeling about American Football’s new LP3, released last Friday through Polyvinyl Records. These are messages I sent to a good friend and guitarist I used to rock out with:

 

 

Five stars. And—you heard it here first—it’s not only American Football’s best album, but the best album this genre has produced to date.

The other reviews I’ve read or skimmed talk a lot about the lyrics. This one is more about the music itself, all written when I first listened a month and a half ago.

 


 

 

Whoever called this album “post-house” is a genius

 

American Football’s third full-length LP has my new favorite album beginning. The band released the album’s first track (its first single) well before the album’s release date. I remember when I first heard its sparse, gradually building intro. Xylophone, vibraphone, then bass. The first LP didn’t even have bass… was this even the same band? Then, and only then, does the band come in, sounding fuller, tighter, more confident, and more creative than ever before. The string swells, chimey guitars, fat (phat?) bass line, vibraphone, silky vocals, and totally perfect drums make this the best American Football song I’ve ever heard. Easily. Its 7 minutes and 22 seconds passed in an instant.

I felt like Bill and Ted must have felt when they went up to heaven and heard the future Bill and Ted’s new jams. If there were a Platonic form of an American Football song, “Silhouettes” would be it. Steve Holmes, Mike Kinsella, Nate Kinsella, Steve Lamos might be my first choice for the soundtrack of heaven.

Where do you go from the epic opening track? To vocal duets! The next two tracks feature Hayley Williams (Paramore) and Elizabeth Powell (Land of Talk). Mike Kinsella’s vocals and the interlocking guitar parts—whether as Owen or as American Football—are already so full and so good, I’d never even considered what an outside-the-band singer could do for them. It’s an awesome sound. (Track 6 features another vocalist: Rachel Goswell of the just reunited Slowdive, and it’s an amazing song.)

The flute on track 4 (“Heir Apparent”) is about the last instrument I expected to hear, but, man, is that a cool song. Just as it starts soothingly hypnotizing the listener at the 4-minute mark, in comes… well, I won’t spoil it for you. It’s yet more sweet instrumentation I never would have thought to have in an American Football song, but it works great (even if the instrumentation and the lyrics feel like a mismatch).

Thank God there’s another nearly 8-minute track on this record. The fifth track (“Doom in Full Bloom”) begins with a reverb-y trumpet (just like old times), which gives way to more ethereal goodness, this one with layered vocals, guitars, piano, and a smooth, laid back drum beat. It’s not hard to imagine this song—with its syncopated rhythms and detuned guitars—being covered by a metal band. In its current form, though, it’s smooth and beautiful.

They could have stopped after five songs and still had a genre-changing album. But the sixth track (“I Can’t Feel You,” with Goswell) is just nuts. The drum and bass combo calls to mind my favorite Radiohead track of all time, “Where I End and You Begin,” but this is very much its own song. I wouldn’t be surprised if it got radio airplay.

The last two tracks are awesome, too. The closing song “Life Support” is spellbinding.

The only thing I don’t love about this album is—years later—I still can’t tell if I think of some of Mike Kinsella’s lyrics as “overly dramatic” or if he’s just speaking openly and “honestly.” Maybe somewhere in between. Either way, the sublime music more than makes up for any impatience the listener may have with continued reference to “relentless adolescence”—a theme which, in fact, Kinsella treats beautifully in the last song.

American Football is making music on a whole new level right now—both compared to their previous stuff and compared to the rest of what’s in the emo and indie rock scene. Nothing else is close. There are few better musical experiences than putting on headphones and listening to a brand new American Football album for the first time (and it’s been two years since the last time), so once you’ve downloaded this album via the provider of your choice, block out some time and space and enjoy.

Here’s the record at Polyvinyl.

 


 

Thanks to the powers-that-be for the advance release download of this fine album, so I could write a review.

In the Mail: Updated Zondervan Greek and Hebrew Grammars

Zondervan has just released updated editions of Basics of Biblical Hebrew Grammar and Basics of Biblical Greek Grammar, as well as related aids for students working through those textbooks. Behold:

 

 

Zondervan Academic has sent these for review. It feels like a long time ago (though it was only 10 years) that I began learning biblical languages. I spent hours and hours combing through the previous editions of these Greek and Hebrew textbooks, filling out almost every page of the workbooks, and learning the vocabulary with the cards. So I’m excited to work through these resources and report back.

In the meantime, you can click the links below to learn more. When I post I’ll point out differences in the new editions, but please also leave comments or questions if you’re wondering about a specific aspect of these new resources, and I’ll do my best to address them in the reviews.

Basics of Biblical Greek: Grammar / Workbook / Vocab Cards / Compact Guide (not yet released)
Basics of Biblical Hebrew: GrammarWorkbookVocab Cards / Compact Guide (not yet released)

Oatmeal Banana Pancakes for Shrove Tuesday (from Run Fast. Cook Fast. Eat Slow.)

Yesterday in the mail I received a review copy of Run Fast. Cook Fast. Eat Slow. by Shalane Flanagan and Elyse Kopecky (publisher page / Amazon). We’ve loved its predecessor, Run Fast. Eat Slow. This new volume says you can “cook the recipes that Shalane Flanagan ate while training for her 2017 TCS New York City Marathon historic win!”

Last night I wasn’t thinking about marathons; just how to make a good dinner for the family. As yesterday was Shrove Tuesday, I went right to the index to see if there were any pancake recipes. Lo and behold, I found one for oatmeal banana pancakes:

 

 

I did not have oatmeal flour on hand, but had some organic rolled oats, which I could easily grind up in a food processor. My wife and I went to work: she mixed the wet ingredients; I mixed the dry ones (there were hungry mouths waiting). Before long, this:

 

 

became this:

 

 

They were tasty!

Between the previous cookbook and now this newer one, we have yet to find a dud of a recipe. (Although I’m not sure I’ll repeat the first cookbook’s blueberry scones made with corn meal.)

There are also racing tips and bigger picture eating strategies in Run Fast. Cook Fast. Eat Slow. So far it looks like a worthy follow-up to our current go-to cookbook. More to follow!

How to Make Yourself Poop: And 999 Other Tips All Runners Should Know (Book Review)

9781635651836

 

Yes, it’s a funny title, but it also is a needed skill for runners who are going to be on the road for a while.

This has been a fun book to read. The full title is Runner’s World How to Make Yourself Poop: And 999 Other Tips All Runners Should Know.

Think of this book as a few years of the Runner’s World website printed out, all in list form. There’s barely a running detail that’s not mentioned here. There are 34 chapters, split into 6 sections:

  • Section 1: 205 Training Tips
  • Section 2: 193 Nutrition Tips
  • Section 3: 126 Gear Tips
  • Section 4: 158 Motivation Tips
  • Section 5: 169 Tips for Staying Healthy
  • Section 6: 157 Racing Tips

I’ll save you the time–that’s 1,008 tips, assuming the section titles are right. But this is at it should be, since 9 tips (a list of 3 and a later list of 6) are on how to poop; then 999 other tips give you 1,008 pieces of digestible advice you can put into practice.

I mentioned this in the book note I wrote a few months ago, but from the very start, the book is practical and offers good guidance. Here are “The 5 Golden Rules of Training”:

  1. The vast majority of your miles should feel easy.
  2. Your “easy effort” should be really, really easy.
  3. Increase milage gradually.
  4. Aim for three… quality workouts each week: a speed workout, a long run, and an in-between workout at a comfortably hard pace (a “tempo run”).
  5. Follow every hard or long run with at least one easy or rest day.

You won’t find philosophical reflection on running here, nor detailed exercise science. But there’s not much else missing. You get, for example, tips on how long to warm up for different races, whether a 1-miler, a 5K or 10K, a half marathon, or a full marathon. There’s lots of good advice about injury prevention, race etiquette, hydration, and even some sample interval workouts–one of which (a “pyramid fartlek”) I tried and loved.

You can check out the book at Amazon here, and at its publisher’s site (where you can read an excerpt) here. Definitely a book most runners will want to have on their shelf and keep referring back to, as I will in the months and years ahead.

 


 

Thanks to the publisher, who sent me a review copy, but with no expectation as to the content of my review.