Best of 2015

by winemama

You guys know how I love my lists.

What were your favorites of 2015 (books, movies, music, etc)?

16 Of The Best YA Books Of 2015

50 Best Albums of 2015


147 thoughts on “Best of 2015

  1. The only book I read on the Goodreads list was “The Day the Crayons Came Home”. I like a few of the albums on the top 50 list, although DH is much more up on that than I am. I actually like The Weekend and haven’t listened to all of Adele’s new songs but like the ones on the radio. And I do like those Selena Gomez songs (and the Justin Bieber ones that are on the radio) – embarrassing but they are really catchy.

  2. I have bookmarked the book lists, and will use them to identify new books. I love to read, but feel like I don’t have enough time to read as much as I’d like.

  3. I haven’t read any of those books on the Goodreads’ list, but I tried and was unable to pin a couple of them onto my Pinterest board. I wonder why that sometimes occurs. :( The Nightingale and Dead Wake

    I did attend a Connor Franta book signing with my D, who seems to mainly read YouTuber books for her leisure reading. :)

    Winemama and anyone else, what do you find appealing about YA books? I’ve only read any if my kids were reading one, and I don’t find them appealing at all. (I’m not really a good standard to judge this since I don’t read much and mostly nonfiction.)

    I like The Martian, one of the few movies I saw last year.

  4. CoC – YA books

    YA books are books about teenagers, not books for teenagers. Some have more of a teen audience in mind than others. I love a good coming of age story.

  5. CofC, I like the probability of a happy ending and I don’t like graphic sexual violence. YA fiction is more likely to fulfill those requirements. I have enough of ambiguity and pain in my real life, I don’t need it when I’m looking to escape.

  6. My 2 favorite YA of last year

    More Happy Than Not – Adam Silvera (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind meets YA GLBT)
    The Alex Crow by Andrew Smith

  7. And of interest to me, the Newberry went to a picture book (this never happens) typically goes to middle grade, but criteria is up to age 14. Only the text is considered.

  8. I’ve only read the Rick Riordan Norse gods book since I (ahem I mean the kids) really got into his other series.

    Thanks for posting these links. I’m often at a loss as to what to read next. I am way behind on my Audible subscription too.

  9. I rarely read YA fiction because it is all so depressing these days. The stuff my kids had to read for middle school would have made me slit my wrists

  10. Mooshi- it isn’t all depressing, More Happy Than Not, is as the title implies, it isn’t happily ever after

    one with a happier ending was simon vs the homosapien agenda by Becky Albertalli

  11. I saw the Humans of New Yorj book in there, which I bought myself for Christmas. I love the stories he pulls out of random people. I also have not read many of the books on the list, but have a nice queue waiting for me for when I get time to read. We went to B&N after going out to dinner last night, and there are so many books I want. The first year of retirement will be heaven for me.

    I’ll add a list, because my sister’s book is on here. She is fairly new as a published author, and her historical fiction book is getting some traction in a crowded kid’s book market.

  12. I despise most of what now passes for literary fiction. We have now passed the point at which the main character being a victim of childhood sexual abuse is remotely surprising. I’m more surprised when the plot doesn’t involve rape or incest.

    Give me a book by Alexander McCall Smith and I’m happy.

    Other than our Ris, any recommendations for me?

  13. The family and I were just at the bookstore yesterday picking up some books for our upcoming cruise. My DH picked up Dead Wake. When I reminded him that he would be on a ship, reading about a sinking ship, he decided he’ll wait to read that one.

  14. I own 1 album on the Rolling Stones list (Muse, Drones), and have read 1 book on the Goodreads list (Magnus Chase and the Sword of Summer). Dean Koontz’s Saint Odd is on my list, but i need to go back to book one because I’m woefully behind. (and why can’t that man bring back Chris Snow… he has about 11 Odd books, and 2 on Chris Snow… ergg).

    I”m in the market for a book to read (still) – it has to be a beach-style read, or a really compelling non-fic book. I need to be able to pick it up, put it down, and want to pick it up again.

  15. It looks nice, Lark. It’s not for me, but I’m glad they’re making the investment. From an engineering perspective, it seems like the minivan is better-suited to house large batter packs.

  16. I’ve had The Girl on the Train on my kindle for at least six months. Maybe I’ll get to that this month. I’ve been reading the sixth Outlander book for about three months so haven’t started anything new, but am making headway and am about 2/3rds of the way done with that book now.

    I haven’t been reading much YA lately. I liked the Hunger Games and Divergent series (until the awful 3rd book) fine and really liked the Daughter of Smoke and Bone series but then I felt that every YA book felt the same (dystopian). I did read Eleanor and Park last year and it was one of my favorites. Such a sweet story.

  17. Rhode, I read the first Odd Thomas and I’ve been meaning to read the rest but haven’t gotten around to it yet.

    I read both Christopher Snow books years ago, prob around 2001 or 2002. I would need to start over if he picks back up on those.

  18. I am always looking for books for DS. He has to read a few books of his choice for school work, so I offer a few suggestions. I have had good luck in suggesting books from award winning lists, so thanks Wine for posting the award winners. They had to read a biography/autobiography and there were four kids who chose “I am Malala”.

  19. I have not read a single book on that Goodreads list, not even the nonfiction or the cookbook selection, two genres in which I read extensively. And what terrible choices in those two genres! There was so much amazing, emotionally powerful nonfiction last year, and so many delightful cookbooks. How could they choose light comedy about modern romance when Between the World And Me came out this year? How about Ruth Reichl’s book A Kitchen Year for cookbook, or if that isn’t traditional enough, how about Lucky Peach’s Asian recipe book, or The Food Lab or Maangchi’s Real Korean Cooking?

    Here is Eater’s list of best cookbooks this year

  20. MM- we love that Food Lab book! Everything we’ve made has been incredible so far. Every time I make everything my DH now says “Did you see what Kenji had to say about that?” I can’t even make my standard Alton Brown pancake recipe anymore.

    Wine – have not read FanGirl but will add it to the list. I’ve heard good things about it. E&P was the first RR book I read.

  21. On the GR list, you can click on each category and see the other books and how many votes each got, I don’t think I realized this last year

  22. Hmm, I wonder if we should do a thread on favorite recent cookbooks? I could write that up and submit it, what do y’all think?

  23. My favorites for 2015 are TV shows. I admitted on an earlier post that I am addicted to streaming shows. My addiction started when I was looking to fill time in the gym. I started small with Masters of Sex on my phone at the gym. (2015 not a favorite). I moved on to shows that I really liked such as the Affair, Homeland, Transparent, Catastrophe, Frankie and Grace. I don’t have time for all of this TV so I started to watch outside of the gym….while cooking, cleaning etc.

    I still watch my old network TV shows on my TV – some favorites continue to be Madam Secretary, Good Wife, Scandal and Downton. I’m watching the Americans, House of Cards and Orange is the New Black with DH. BTW, i really don’t like Orange is the new Black this year.

    I watch a lot of these shows when I working out indoors, but I miss reading. I enjoy TV, but I love books and I miss reading. I know TV is crowding out the time i have for reading so I am working on changing my habits back to my old routine. I just read Life and Other Near Death Experiences (thanks to mention from Risley). really enjoyed it.

  24. I feel like there are about 100 books (literally) that I want to read RIGHT NOW! Thanks to goodreads.

    I just finished the girl on the train, the first 2 books of the 5th wave series and A Monster Calls.

    Started into Dove Arising (sci fi YA), but I need to switch my focus to writing for the rest of the month

  25. I barely watched tv this year – the only thing I saw was Catastrophe on Amazon which was really funny. I’m so behind I never even finished Mad Men. I’m not sure I want to see Room – that book was a tough read.

  26. @Milo – I’m curious why you say that minivan is not for you?

    I think it was a bit of a stretch for the reporter to say “The Pacifica ushers in a completely new look that hides its sliding doors and doesn’t even appear to be a minivan at first glance”. To me it looks exactly like a minivan. I’ll probably be driving this in a few years.

    The Buick concept car looks nice. I’m waiting for the press on PTM’s Lincoln.

  27. Most of the books I read this year were not published in 2015, so they don’t count. For example, the absolute best book I read this past year was The Half Has Never Been Told, one of those books that can really change your thinking. Since it was published in Sept 2014, it doesn’t make the cutoff. But wow, just wow.

  28. I finally finished Mad Men and I’m catching up on last season of Downton.

    My favorite other TV shows: The Leftovers (renewed for 3rd and final season) Scandal, Walking Dead, Modern Family and AHS Hotel.

    I need to catch up on House of Cards, OITNB and Outlander.

  29. I also really liked Daughters of the Samurai: A Journey from East to West and Back
    which was actually published in 2015 so I read it in the correct year. What an amazing story – these little girls who were sent to America from Japan in the 1800’s to acquire Western educations with the stated goal of bringing back Western education for Japanese girls in general. How they fared, and the ambiguity of their fates, is really fascinating, and a good example of how books don’t have to be fiction to really draw you into a story.

  30. Lauren – I just started watching Community on Hulu. Love it! I think I watched all of season 1 yesterday.

  31. We stream cooking shows. My kids are really big on Master Chef and The Great Foodtruck Race. We also stream Star Trek in all forms. We used to be able to get Tom Baker era Doctor Who from Amazon, but now we can only get the shows on DVD from Netflix. Oh, and My DS2 is addicted to West WIng.

  32. “I’m curious why you say that minivan is not for you?”

    I’m not yet convinced that a hybrid-electric powertrain has the lower overall lifecycle costs over 15-20 years of ownership, and certainly not one from Fiat-Chrysler.

    “I think it was a bit of a stretch for the reporter to say “The Pacifica ushers in a completely new look that hides its sliding doors and doesn’t even appear to be a minivan at first glance”. To me it looks exactly like a minivan.”

    I agree. And that’s OK.

  33. “When I reminded him that he would be on a ship, reading about a sinking ship, he decided he’ll wait to read that one.”

    I once read Death in Big Bend* while visiting Bid Bend National Park. It was creepy in a fascinating way. There’s a Death in the Grand Canyon book and a few similar that I’d probably also enjoy. I’m not sure why I like those types of books but then I find it hard to read something like R’s book. I also sometimes get caught up in those horrific true-life murder TV shows.

    * “This book chronicles selected serious injuries, dramatic rescues, and tragic fatalities that have occurred in the park since the early 1980s.”

  34. CoC – while I was pregnant with twins, my friend recommended a book about a woman who gives birth to twins and one of them is taken and raised by the nurse. The mother was told the baby died. The father was the OB. Very disturbing read at that time.

  35. I bought that book The Full Rip, about the possibility of a massive earthquake in the Pacific Northwest, during the summer, and then realized we were heading to Vancouver and Portland for vacation. I saved it and read it after we returned. Glad that I waited!!

  36. Milo, we have a family member with the Malibu hybrid who has put high mileage on it already (over 100k – maybe over 150k by now) and he would agree that there is a lot more cost of ownership than he expected, even as an early adopter.

    I will be interested to see if the Pacifica hybrid has the wide appeal they expect: if you can plug it in often because your average daily trip is under 30 miles, how much will you really benefit from saving on gas?

    Especially since most independent mechanics around here won’t touch a hybrid, so my relative has to take it back to the dealer….

  37. ATM – I read that book right after I had DD#1. The twin that the dad gave away to the nurse was born with Downs Syndrome right?

  38. I have tried to like current TV shows, but just have a lot of trouble with them. Most of them are so creepy. For example, House of Cards is just so nasty, and nasty in very unrealistic ways (no man of the protaganist’s power would ever bother to do his own hands-on murders) that it quickly became unwatchable. I much prefer West Wing and so does my DH. I think people must have been happier in the 90’s or something. I also started watching Northern Exposure, which I had sort of missed in the 90’s. I really like that one too.

    Of the current crop, the only ones I watch are Big Bang Theory (kids like it) , Silicon Valley and Marco Polo (really silly but has a lot of Chinese history and the guy who plays Kublai Khan is great). I try to like Portlandia but it gets grating after a few episodes. Most of the rest of the shows seem too horrifying to watch.

  39. I watch old episodes of Emergency with DD on the kitchen computer while I am cooking. Fun show, but oh my god the attitudes towards women were so retro! We forget how bad it was in the 70’s.

  40. “I will be interested to see if the Pacifica hybrid has the wide appeal they expect”

    I think it will sell reasonably well. There are a lot of affluent, image-conscious parents who might select it instead of a crossover because it has the hybrid designator, and it gives them something to focus on.

    This would be more pronounced, however, if the name was used exclusively for the hybrid, just like you can say “I bought a Prius” and there’s name and image association with that, a lot more than saying “I bought a Camry Hybrid.”

    But the current model is still a big seller for cost-conscious families and to rental fleets, so I’m sure they don’t want to cede any more of that than necessary. I wonder what it would take to give the hybrid variant a different name entirely.

  41. “if you can plug it in often because your average daily trip is under 30 miles, how much will you really benefit from saving on gas? ”

    Good point. Still, there’s more potential for savings in a hybrid van than there is in a hybrid compact.

  42. I’ll be going through that album list all day now adding the stuff that’s free on Prime. So far the only one I already had was the solo album by the woman from Carolina Chocolate Drops.

    An interesting genre-bending one I just read — The Dark Side of the Road, by Simon R. Green — is like taking the world of urban fantasy, but instead of an urban setting it’s a country house where the family and other guests gathered for Christmas are snowed in — and it turns into what seems like a classic murder mystery — except with all the possibilities urban fantasy would allow.

  43. I’m not yet convinced that a hybrid-electric powertrain has the lower overall lifecycle costs over 15-20 years of ownership

    The Prius is 18 years old and Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive has certainly proven itself.

    The engineers at Consumer Reports recently decided to answer those questions by taking a 2002 Prius with 208,000 miles on it, and putting it through its paces.

  44. “Especially since most independent mechanics around here won’t touch a hybrid, so my relative has to take it back to the dealer….”

    This is interesting, also. I’d certainly have to check with my mechanic before buying something like that. He saves me a ridiculous amount of money over the dealership, and much of that comes from the many services the dealer says are needed and he disagrees. I’ve got my in-laws bringing their cars to him now; each time, there’s the Toyota dealership saying that it’s due for about $1500 of work (based solely on their mileage and age schedules), and my guy says no, just an oil change.

  45. Rhett – This guy is writing positively about the car, even though it needed a battery replacement. The dealership wanted $4k, his local mechanic wouldn’t do it, but he happened to find another business that would install a refurbished battery for $800.

    Before I make the leap, I would want every Pep Boys and Merchants (and my local guy) happy to do a replacement for under $1k, no sweat and not even a question of having to locate a refurbished battery.

  46. Milo,

    Right, but at 208k miles the battery was as good as new. It’s not like someone should expect to have to replace the battery outside it’s 10 year 150k miles warranty.

  47. Milo, his mechanic does not want to risk frying any of the electronics, or himself. The battery is more dangerous than a typical car battery, and his regular guy doesn’t get enough of those cars yet to go for training.

    Since he bought it the first year it came out and is a high mileage driver (>25k/year) he has wound up needing a fair amount of maintenance. Already replaced the battery, which was a few grand. He definitely saves on gas, but what fraction of minivan drivers in the non-commercial market log that many miles?

  48. Book recommendation: The Narrow Road to the Deep North. Tough start but more interesting as you get into it. Story of Australian/Kiwi POWs in WWII

  49. Gah. Nothing like a top 50 list to make me feel out of touch with pop culture! In 2015 I tried to save money by not buying books, so the only books I read were old books that were also easily available on my library’s kindle loan system. I got in the line for “Girl on the Train” but I am still waiting for that (maybe 6 months later).

    I don’t have any of those top 50 albums either. My main criterion for pop music that I like is (1) not rap and (2) good for me to sing along to, so for example “Hello” is good bc I can belt it out in the car (some of her songs are too low), and also “Don’t Want to Fight No More” (Alabama Shakes). By contrast, nothing by Selena Gomez, Justin Bieber et al – too heavily processed and repetitive, and not fun to sing. ;)

  50. “but at 208k miles the battery was as good as new”

    In that case, yes. But it’s also one more thing that can go wrong. A transmission can fail too, of course. I would actually be more inclined to select an all-electric car, or a car like the previous-generation Volt, where the engine was (I believe) strictly a generator for charging the battery, if necessary. But the hybrid powertrain doesn’t eliminate the transmission, it just adds another layer of complexity.

  51. But the hybrid powertrain doesn’t eliminate the transmission, it just adds another layer of complexity.

    My understanding is the transmission in a Prius is vastly simpler than a regular transmission.

    As you may know, the Toyota Prius is fitted with an eCVT (electronic continuously variable transmission) unit that is using a single planetary differential gear set to combine power from two electric motors and a gasoline engine.

    This system is much more simpler and efficient than a multi-speed gear-shifting transmission as it uses about 20 moving parts instead of 100. Also, due to the smaller number of moving parts, these types of transmissions have less chances of breaking down.

  52. L – I will confess that when I read “Hello” I was thinking Lionel Richie not Adele.

  53. Some of my favorite books of 2015 include:
    • Dare to disappoint by Ozge Samanci – a graphic novel about growing up in Turkey
    • The Marvels by Brian Selznick – another graphic novel. In theory this is for kids/teens but I think adults would get more out of it since they’d appreciate the context a lot more – especially anyone affected by AIDS in the 80s.
    • The Whistling Season by Ivan Doig – fiction about living in Montana.
    • Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant – a graphic novel by Roz Chast based on her experience dealing with her aging parents
    • The Royal We by Heather Cocks – total fluff (or mind candy as a friend of mine would say)
    • All The Light We Cannot See by Alan Doerr
    • How I Discovered Poetry by Marilyn Nelson

    I’m not usually a graphic novel person – I hadn’t realized how many of the books I really liked in 2015 were graphic novels until now.

  54. I agree that CVTs are simpler in design. However, re: the Pacifica:

    The 2017 Chrysler Pacifica minivan will be the first in the world (though not for long) with a nine-speed automatic.

  55. oh, wait, that’s for the regular model. The hybrid transmission is electrically variable.

  56. Thanks for the recommendation, L! I hadn’t run across her before and she sounds great.

  57. Winemama, having been a teen when it came out, I might have to go with Under Pressure.

  58. “Oh, yes, but I don’t see any reason to worry about a Prius or Accord Hybrid.”

    If/when gasoline gets back to $3.50 or $4, and my mechanic is comfortable doing all the work on it, I could see it.

  59. Rhett, do you think they switched the city and highway fuel economy on the 2002 Prius in the chart?

  60. I, too, think a lot of shows right now are too violent/depressing. I couldn’t sit through the first episode of Jessica Jones–too dark. I made it through one season of House of Cards, but couldn’t watch the second season.

    I like Bones, Foyle’s War, Scandal, etc.

    Same with books. I can’t stand the dystopian stuff. I’m currently reading At Home in Mitford. It’s a very mild story about a pastor in a perfect small, Southern town. It’s soothing after a stressful day.

  61. “This system is much more simpler …. these types of transmissions have less chances of breaking down.”

    Really? More simpler? Less chances?

  62. “I just bought a coloring book for adults. It’s supposed to be relaxing.”

    Houston – my mom wanted these for Christmas. I just could not bring myself to buy crayons for someone her age. She is not in a nursing home (yet)! Then I spoke with my neighbor who is of a similar age as my mom. She convinced me that if this is the activity my mom wants to pursue, who am I to judge. I am still rather baffled by the popularity of these coloring books but to each her own.

  63. I overheard a RAV4 commercial yesterday claiming that, of all the RAV4s sold in the last 10 years, 90% are still on the road. First I thought, “Oh, that’s pretty good. A 10-year-old RAV4 has a 90% chance of being on the road today,” and that’s probably as far as they’re hoping you go with that statistic.

    Then I realized, wait a second, that includes all the RAV4s sold last year, too, and every year from 2005 to 2015, and I thought that’s not so great at all. In fact, I think seems erroneously low.

    I was out of washer fluid this morning. I refilled it at a gas station, but even then it still wouldn’t pump any through the jets. Frozen condensation in the lines? Let’s hope it’s had a chance to thaw by now.

  64. Labyrinth totally blew my mind when I was around 8 at my first sleepover party! I do love “Under Pressure.”

  65. Milo,

    I would also assume that of the 10% that are no longer on the road +90% of those were totaled. Which, assuming the occupants survived, doesn’t necessarily indicate any failure on the part of Toyota.

  66. I was already in college when Labyrinth came out. I saw it and liked it, but I always thought if I’d seen it 8 or 10 years earlier it would have seemed like THE one true movie.

    Instead it was Grease and Xanadu for me. (Interestingly, when I watched Xanadu with my daughter last year, she too thought it was a wonderful movie and not at all goofy.)

  67. “I just bought a coloring book for adults. It’s supposed to be relaxing.”

    I saw part of an infomercial for those, and wondered, who would buy one of those?

    I guess I know now.

  68. Coloring books for adults have been around since i was in high school at least. Dover was always the specialist. The mother collected them. I have a couple that she colored in, beautiful deep pastelwork (she was an artist). We had a stained glass coloring book, and one on medieval costume, and the ever favorite Jackie Onassis coloring book
    Here is one I remember very well

  69. I loved Bowie in The Man Who Fell to Earth, which may have been my alltime high school era movie.

  70. Under Pressure is definitely one of my favorites. I was surprised to learn that Modern Love was one of his as well… I really hadn’t thought of it.

    Labyrinth is a family favorite. DS and his cousins (twin boys) all sported red/white stripe Xmas sleepers on Xmas day. It was the closest thing we could find to the Toby outfit on short notice. And, upon posting a pic of my son on FB, a dear friend jumped right on the Labyrinth reference.

    I think I may check The Royal We out of the library. I need something fun to read now.

  71. “Instead it was Grease and Xanadu for me.”

    I remember some kids coming back to the dorm after watching Xanadu, and marveling over the old guy who could really dance.

  72. I love adult coloring books. But I’ve always liked to color. My cousin is very artistic, and I bought her a coloring book with theme colored pencils (I think the theme was harmony, so all blues and greens) for Christmas. She was excited to color on the plane. I have 2 more of those books in my “if I need a quick gift” box.

  73. ATM: I bought artist quality colored pencils to use with mine. I have always enjoyed coloring, at it seemed like an easy and inexpensive thing to do while watching football, hanging out with family, etc.

  74. Adult coloring books seem to be having a moment. A bunch of my coworkers have recently gotten into them as a stress release, and other unrelated friends seem to be posting about them on FB & Instagram all of a sudden too. It’s not my thing really, but it’s a perfectly good hobby & not super expensive for most.

    David Bowie is one of those artists that I didn’t think about much, but when I went to look at his discography, I realized that I know all of the big hits and some of the not-so-big hits.

    I am really removed from pop music. This becomes painfully obvious when I hang out with the 20-somethings in the office! I don’t really care though. Long live the 90’s! And “Dad Rock”.

  75. His duet with Bing is still an all-time favorite. And I rekindled a love for “Heroes” after watching Perks of Being a Wallflower.

  76. As a Christmas present, I bought an coloring book for adults for DD who is almost 16. She’s under a lot of stress at school this year so I thought she might enjoy it as a stress reliever. It appears to have been a hit.

  77. Houston – if you enjoy it great. My mom is very sedentary and is not particularly artistic. Her hobbies include knitting, jigsaw puzzles and reading. For some reason it struck me as really odd for me to buy her crayons (what she asked for) at the same time my kids are still using crayons. She really doesn’t need to relax more, she needs to be more social and active. If she had asked for painting supplies, I probably would not have had the same reaction. The whole thing probably says more about me than her.

  78. Rhode – I heard somewhere that Bowie didn’t really want to do a duet with Bing but agreed to go on Bing’s show because his mom loved Bing. Bing allowed Bowie to choose the song and arrangement.

  79. That makes sense – it was such an odd pairing. I can’t think of another one so odd (OK, maybe Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett).. but it worked. And definitely didn’t hurt his street cred. I wonder if it was the first public music mash up…

  80. “Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett”

    I wonder if their album made the list when it was released. It’s one of the few newer albums I listen to. I mostly, like Troy Aikman, dwell in the past; the newer stuff I listen to, like Gaga/Bennett, is what my kids introduced to me.

  81. Mooshi–would love a cookbook post. The last few I’ve gotten have been busts.
    I got a coloring book and pencils for Christmas. Not particularly stress relieving.

  82. Back OT, seeing Boz Scaggs in the album list has me dwelling in the past again, listening to some of his old stuff, e.g., Silk Degrees.

  83. I worked on a really interesting deal because Bowie had so many hits, and a deep library of music. He is one of the few artists that was able to have a successful bond securitization of his music library because there was evidence that as people came of age they bought his albums, and then they purchased in CD form. The bonds were issued in 1997 and they received an investment grade rating even though it was the first securitization of music royalties. It seemed great until technology changed the way that we all purchase music, and the the bonds were downgraded many years later. I never got to meet him, but the people that put together the deal met him and it was really fun to be a part of an deal that did not involve auto or credit card payments.

  84. This past year I’ve started listening to “popera”, specifically an Italian trio Il Volo. They do Italian standards, some opera, new pop ballads, and covers of oldies. I love their voices; think a younger three tenors. I stumbled across their music on PBS, and for the first time ever I was tempted to donate to get a totebag and tickets to one of their concerts!

  85. Long, fascinating article on Mexican drug cartels. I was interested in how many shootings there were and how many of them resulted in death. Two conclusions:
    1)If someone tries to shoot at me, I’m going to run. Even if I’m shot, I have a good chance at surviving.
    2) If we can’t keep consumable drugs from crossing the border, I doubt we’ll be successful at keeping non-consumable guns from crossing the border.

  86. A favorite of mine is the collaboration with Mick Jagger for Live Aid Dancing in the Street a music video without props or extras. (you might need sunglasses for Mick’s outfit)

  87. WCE, when my kid’s dentist was talking about how great it will be when the U.S. finally confiscates all guns like the UK and Australia, I pointed out that not only is there a lot of case law in the way, but he should stop and picture maps of the U.K., Australia, and the U.S.

    We are not an island.

    I understand why so many of my friends want confiscation, but I don’t think it will go the way they think it will go.

  88. Lauren worked on the Bowie Bonds? Now you have serious cred. I was in grad school when they were issued and thought it was pretty cool. Shortly thereafter Bowie launched an ISP. Genuinely ahead of his time. I’m sorry there won’t be more music, but grateful for what he made.

  89. I have one of those trendy coloring books (holiday gift picked out by my kids!) and some nice fine point markers. It can be nice once in a while when we’re watching a movie, but it’s not life altering or anything. I usually can’t sit entirely still to watch tv, so I’m usually prepping something in the kitchen, folding laundry, also browsing the internet, knitting, and now sometimes coloring.

    I’d love a cookbook post too.

  90. I disagree with the stance that “criminals will be criminal” and that changing the ease of acquiring firearms wouldn’t change the amount of morbidity and mortality associated with firearms in the US.

    I know a number of people that I consider irresponsible gun owners. They leave their firearms unsecured and they are stolen. The leave them in a place where children and mentally ill people can find them. Their actions contribute to gun related injuries (which include accidents and suicides) in the US.

    However, I can’t think of a single person I know who would buy a gun on the black market. Sure, it sounds like the San Bernardino shooters would have gone to all kinds of lengths to acquire more fire power. I think that less guns, less high capacity guns, less non-sporting guns leads to less gun injuries.

  91. Ada, this is one of the better analyses I’ve seen because it separates out suicides vs. homicides. Suicide prevention may be a legitimate policy goal, but I seldom see its statistics broken out. One of my acquaintances at church had grandparents who died in a murder/suicide associated with persistent, uncontrollable pain a few decades ago. I suspect that’s long been common. I wonder if better access to pain control medications would have prevented that. My mom had pretty good pain control at the end of her battle with pancreatic cancer.

  92. My perception is that pain control, especially of severe, chronic pain, gets short shrift due to concerns about the possibility of abuse of pain meds. Better availability of pain meds could reduce the occurrence of that type of murder/suicide.

  93. Interesting article – you’re right that suicide is often not handled appropriately in discussions on guns control (or acknowledged as the driver of such high number of gun-related deaths).

  94. In general, chronic pain is not well served by opioids. It is not well-served by much, as far as I can tell. “A 2014 systematic review of 39 studies in patients with chronic pain treated with opioids found no evidence of long-term benefit, but found increased risk of serious harm (eg, increased risk of overdose) that was dose dependent” (UptoDate).

    Physicians have become much more reluctant over the past decade to prescribe meds for subjective pain complaints, even when described as severe. I suppose I don’t know much about the patients that do commit suicide related to pain; I suspect they are not the patients who are being refused pain medication by the medical establishment.

  95. Ada, I’m curious about what you think, because Friend’s Mom (in her 70’s) has chronic nerve/neck pain that has been untreatable. She just went through an operation which didn’t help. The Friend (engineering professor at local U) is considering taking his mom to Mayo for another workup, to see if there are causes/treatments that the rural Kansas physicians aren’t considering.

    It seems like no physicians are particularly interested in the chronic, seemingly untreatable pain of this elderly woman. As an engineer, I will admit to avoiding problems I know I can’t solve.

  96. A pain specialist is might be the right answer – probably the neurosurgeon can refer her to one. People are sometimes reluctant to manage pain, as a symptom, and focus on finding the underlying problem. Sometimes the underlying problem is that the pain system isn’t working.

  97. Talking of coloring…
    At present, I guess the Apple pencil is more a serious drawing tool than a toy but the way little kids use tablets now, I can see this gradually taking the place of crayons (loses Totebag credentials here). The drawing/coloring that people have done with this pencil are great and I am guessing you can easily share your kids artwork (instead of having to store all the papers that come home from school). This year, I recieved some Christmas cards with the kid artwork on the front and their pictures on the back.
    Have any of you tried this pencil ?

  98. WCE – one of my grandmothers had similar chronic nerve pain when she was a similar age She suffered with it for years (not silently).

    HM – I will have to look up her work with the Carolina Chocolate Drops – her vibrato is oddly distracting to me in the new album.

    CoC – do we have a post coming up on movies by themselves (oscar related perhaps)? I just saw “Spotlight” and it was great – although I LOL’d at when Mark Ruffalo takes a cab and they show him driving totally 10 different wrong ways to get to the Globe offices. :)

  99. I had a friend, at my previous job, who suffered chronic, often severe, neck pain. Opioids did provide relief, but if was often difficult for him to get a prescription. As he described it to me, there are a lot of restrictions on prescribing opioids, and other pain medications, to the point that they limit the legitimate use of them to control such pain, making it difficult for many sufferers to get relief.

    It reminds me of how a very useful cold remedy, pseudoephedrine, is now a lot harder to come by, thanks to its use in the manufacture of illegal drugs.

  100. We are more prone to keep pseudoephedrine stocked at home than we were before the regulations were tightened up, because I can no longer count on being readily able to run out and buy some if someone needs it.

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