Tsagaana Davaa adjusts the solar-powered satellite dish outside his yurt in a remote part of Mongolia. He gets more than 60 stations, offering everything from “Breaking Bad” to Hollywood blockbusters. (Julie Makinen / Los Angeles Times)
Marci Ward hugs dog Murphy. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
The soundtrack: "Bridge Over Troubled Water," by Johnny Cash. I'm not a huge fan of the Simon and Garfunkel original. Too overwrought (so I'm inconsistent on the overwrought front -- see Nilsson above). But this Cash version, which came on one of the brilliant cover albums he did with producer Rick Rubin, is stripped down. It's shot through with his life experience, a lifetime of troubles and monumental love.
What I'm reading
This story in the New York Times about the culture of rape in the Islamic State militant group is absolutely chilling. It recounts rape after rape of their piteous sex slaves, bookended by prayer. It ends with this: "Unmoved, he ignored the girl’s agony, continuing the ritual of praying before and after raping the child. 'I said to him, "She’s just a little girl,”' the older woman recalled. 'And he answered: "No. She’s not a little girl. She’s a slave. And she knows exactly how to have sex. And having sex with her pleases God."'"
And also from the New York Times (but much less grim) is this great little story that reporter Nicole Santa Cruz alerted me to about President Obama's first Spotify playlists. Never thought I'd be following a president on Spotify -- but that's what I promptly did after reading the post. My favorites on his daytime list: "Rock Steady," by Aretha Franklin (perfect for a Friday afternoon) and "Hot Fun in the Summertime," by Sly & the Family Stone. My favorites on his nighttime list: "How Can You Mend a Broken Heart," by Al Green, "The Best Is Yet to Come," by Frank Sinatra and "Feeling Good," by Nina Simone (I have my own Spotify playlist of that song -- just the one song six times over so I don't have to hit repeat.)
What's on my bedside table
I can reread old Ross Macdonald paperbacks over and over. He may not be as famous as Raymond Chandler, but he is an L.A. noir master. Right now I'm rereading "The Underground Man," and how about this for a chapter opener: "Jean was looking down at her husband's face as if she wondered how it felt to be dead." And this makes me wistful for those days of big papers and people spending all morning with them (plus, a great line about the classifieds): "I walked ... down the street and bought the weekend edition of the Los Angeles Times. I lugged it home and spent most of the morning reading it. All of it, including the classifieds, which sometimes tell you more about Los Angeles than the news."
What's on my turntable
Although I spend most of my time listening with headphones to Spotify, sometimes I want to hear the needle touching down on vinyl. That's why I have a turntable in my office — and two at home (one inside, and a battery-powered one outside when the weather's fine — which it usually is in Southern California). This week's vinyl: "The Race for Space," by Public Broadcasting Service. This band uses snippets of vintage soundbites as the lyrics for its songs, and it's never worked better than in this album. You get the full drama of the original space race, a kind of soundtrack for Tom Wolfe's "The Right Stuff." I particularly love the anxiety and the ecstasy of "The Dark Side" and "Go."
Want to chat? Have a great idea for a Great Read? I'm @karihow on Twitter and email@example.com on email.