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I like music. I have a lot of music. And one of my specialties in life is making themed mixes for my friends. This activity allows me to play with juxtaposition, and get kind of nerdy about rare bands and off-the-wall themes, and proselytize about my favorite musicians. Occasionally I will post the mixes here and try to make some larger point about music and culture. But really, I’ll just be showing off (and, sure, trying to incite some conversation about your own suggestions for the theme).

Today this article appeared on SFGate. The headline intrigued me, so I clicked through and then became irate. Irate, I tell you! Partly because this list is terrible – “California Gurls”? SERIOUSLY? – and partly because my most recent masterpiece was a collection of songs about food, so I’ve been thinking about this topic a lot lately. So, herewith, my track listing for the two-volume collection “Gastromusica”:

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At first glance, The Missing is a book that is basically screaming my name. It’s a mystery, it’s historical, and it’s set in the South. So why didn’t I love it?

Well, for one, despite its recent Edgar nomination, The Missing is less a mystery novel and more a meditation on the nature of loss and the gaping holes that people leave in our lives when they suddenly disappear. It’s the story of Sam Simoneaux, a New Orleans musician (and WWI veteran) who gets tangled up in the family and fate of a missing child, Lily Weller. The novel follows his journey through the South of the 1920s as he tries to find Lily. Bookending the main action, and woven through it at times, are Sam’s attempts to deal with a tragic past–a murdered family, a son lost to illness, memories of war–and forge a future.

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