Keith Richards’ “Life” Audiobook Review

Keith Richards LifeI just revisited the audiobook of Keith Richards‘ autobiography, Life, after having first listened some time ago. For me, the best parts were his thoughts about the magic of performance and songwriting, along with hearing the intimate details of how some of my favorite records like Exile on Main Street came together.

The parts where he gripes at length about Mick Jagger and Brian Jones got kinda tiresome, but I understand why they’re included, and the rest of the book more than makes up for it. For example, his unwavering respect and reverence of Charlie Watts is a constant theme. Also, the guy wrote Gimme Shelter, so, hey.

“Believe it or not, I remember everything”

I especially enjoyed the first half of the book, learning about Richards’ upbringing and what makes Keith, Keith. Hearing firsthand what it was like for a young rock ‘n roll band in the early ’60s and just how much these guys all revered American blues music was captivating and enlightening.

As for the audiobook itself, Keith narrates a few chapters at beginning and end; Johnny Depp does a few as well, and the majority is expertly read by Joe Hurley. They even won some formal recognition. All that aside, for an absolutely smashing one-on-one of the man himself doing the talking, definitely check out “Ask Keith” at Keith’s website.

Overall, this was a supremely compelling book, and I’d recommend it to anyone interested in the history of rock ‘n’ roll or even vaguely interested in the Stones. Because, bottom line: Keith is the real deal.

Musical accompaniment for this post:
Rocks Off, from Exile on Main Street

What do you think? Experienced any good audiobooks lately? What are your thoughts on the history of rock? Let us hear from you in the comments.

Single Image Sundays: Momentary


Two unrelated moments make sense for a moment here. This is made from a photo of a faux stone figurine of a child sleeping, from Pier 1 Imports, in Greensboro, NC (taken with Hipstamatic John S. lens & Rock BW-11 film), along with a photo of a steel pole with peeling paint in the Church Street Parking Deck, in Winston-Salem, NC. I used Photoforge2 to combine the images via layers. The concept was inspired by my favorite photographer, Jerry Uelsmann.

What do you think? Have you ever combined two unrelated photographs for artistic harmony? What are some examples of this that you find inspiring? Let us hear from you in the comments!

Improve Your Writing Immediately: Synonym Finder

Synonym Finder

Fact: if you use a book so much you repair it with duct tape, it’s a winner.

There are plenty of books on improving your writing, and here’s one that works immediately. It’s more direct than a thesaurus and is instantly applicable for deepening the breadth of your vocabulary in the moment, while you are writing. Whatever word you’re thinking of using, check it out in the ol’ Synonym Finder and you’ll likely find a better one — or at least get to thinking about other possibilities.

Since we all write with our own voices, it’s sometimes helpful to have a tool at the ready to infuse some color when called for, especially in moments of creative befuddlement. I borrowed this copy from my father before leaving for college, and reference it to this day. It’s definitely gotten use, hence the duct tape keeping the cover attached to the spine.

What do you think? Ever use a Synonym Finder? What else do you turn to for writing tools or inspiration? Let us hear from you in the comments.

Single Image Saturdays: Spring is Springing


From today’s afternoon walk around town. Shot via iPhone using Hipstamatic with Libatique 73 lens and Ina’s 1969 film. Full-size version over at Flickr.

Advanced Level Invisibility


For those interested in the Advanced Level Invisibility course, Professor Gus here will be focusing on three key areas: 1) stealth poses, 2) blending in with your environment, and 3) utilizing furniture.

Recent Musical Obsessions

Here are some songs I have been obsessed with lately. For one reason or another these tunes have been on repeat in my brain and in my iPod consistently the last several weeks.

“Baby Blue” by Badfinger

Ever since the final episode of Breaking Bad, like millions of other folks, I’ve been obsessed with this catchy tune by ’70s power pop rockers Badfinger. This track was the perfect music for the final moments of one of the best shows on television.

“Headache” by Frank Black

I first heard this song in the ’90s after Black’s band, The Pixies, broke up (now back together and touring), and I enjoyed the retro look of the video of the time. Little did I know, for some reason, I would want to hear the song over and over a decade later.

“In the Garage” by Weezer

I like the simple sing-song melody and declarations of what’s important: a 12-sided die, posters of KISS, and the safety a space like a garage can offer a creative spirit, something no doubt familiar to the members of Weezer, one of my favorite bands.

What do you think? What are some songs that have been in your head lately? Where do you go to discover new music? Let us hear from you in the comments.

How to Automate Tweets

For the past several weeks I’ve been experimenting with auto-populating my Twitter stream through RSS feeds and automatically tweeting updates. RSS stands for “Really Simple Syndication.”

Automated TweetsYes, I know social media is about interaction and connections, but here’s why I’m OK, philosophically, with this approach: I normally share news items I find interesting all the time. I’ve just set up a way for that a happen automatically, and with more frequency than would be happening if I were doing so manually, and I love it.

I still manually tweet, retweet and reply to tweets, of course, but now I’ve also set up a way for other things to come in that I wouldn’t ordinarily have the time to share.

In fact, I’ve noticed that engagement is on the rise for me using this approach. I’m getting more favorites and retweets, as well as comments and conversations. I feel this is just as good, if not better than if I were scouring my sources for this content by hand.

Automate your Twitter content

This is possible through the magic of — which stands for “If This Then That.” Here’s how to make it happen:

  1. Sign up with
  2. Find some RSS feeds of sites with content you would like to share. For example, here are some I use from The New York Times, The Atlantic and CNN Tech.
  3. Set up an IFTTT recipe that posts a tweet each time there’s a new item in the feed. It should look like so:
  4. iftttRepeat this for as few or as many RSS feeds you like. In my case, many of the blogs I follow automatically provide links to their feeds, which are generally in the format of http://nameofblog/feed.

That’s it! Your Twitter stream is about to be hopping, with all the news you see to include from the sources you select. Just don’t let it replace your actual interaction on the site.

Curated Content? Curated Sources.

The stories I share are of interest to me, covering such topics as art, photography, technology, and humor – all things that I would be sharing anyway. So it’s still curated content, since I’m in effect curating the sources.

And I’m on Twitter as much as I was before experimenting with automation. I still respond to mentions, and converse with other Twitter users just as I always have. The only difference now is that instead of five tweets a day, my stream has about 50, many of which I never would have discovered Just in my own web browsing, so it’s also a reading list generation for myself.

This is not to say this approach will work for everyone. Or that flooding your Twitter stream with the same exact headlines as BuzzFeed will make you a Twitter superstar. I’ve just found something that meets my goals of expanding what I would already be doing, which includes more interaction — and isn’t that the point, after all?

What do you think? Have you experimented with automating content before? Have you followed the above steps, and if so, what have your results been? Let us hear from you in the comments.