Art and Culture

Art and culture

I’m Jim McKeown, welcome to Likely Stories, a weekly review of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and biographies.

Some of the most interesting novels I have read over the years, are those I discovered through a small press publisher.  Edward J. Delaney’s gripping novel, Follow the Sun is a prime example of the many hidden treasures from a small press.  He has also written two other novels—Broken Irish and Warp and Weft.  I am sure I will soon haul in these two exciting novels.

During the peak of the civil rights movement, the Sensational Six of Birmingham, Alabama release this brave call to arms, "Let Freedom Ring."

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David and Art - Remembering McCoy Tyner

Apr 6, 2020
Sofie Hernandez-Simeonidis

McCoy Tyner was a pianist whose influence can be heard across half a century.

In 1990, I was… Quite a bit younger. My musical tastes were relatively typical: I was into pop music, some hard rock stuff.  I was a bass player so I was into the group Rush.  I hadn’t yet discovered Earth, Wind and Fire.  I thought I knew jazz because back in high school I’d played in the jazz band and sorta dug some big band recordings like Glen Miller and Count Basie.

Somehow there drifted into my CD collection an album of solo jazz piano by an artist that I’d never heard of.  I ordered it from some place but to this day I don’t know why I bought McCoy Tyner’s 1988 album Revelations.

Tyner was born in Philadelphia in 1938.  Like Thelonious Monk and John Coltrane and Miles, he was a 

I’m Jim McKeown, welcome to Likely Stories, a weekly review of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and biographies.

I could easily name five or six novels that have brought me to tears at the end of my reading.  Today, I am telling a story that drove me to tears from the first two or three paragraphs.  The Library Book by Susan Orlean has done just that.  This review will be different than most.

David and Art - "Theatres that are Closed"

Mar 30, 2020
Sofie Hernandez-Simeonidis

When theaters are dark, we lose out on the stories that make us human.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t think I’d want to see my life acted out on a stage. A dramatic rendering of my foibles, failures, vanities and inconsistencies? No thanks. I know of few people who’d relish being the subject of such a display.

On the other hand, we as a society need to see such things because it does us good to be reminded of our potential failings and weaknesses before they erupt and cause trouble. If Macbeth could have seen 

Gospel Unlimited's "God is Love" and "Walkin' and Talkin' With Jesus" is an under-appreciated gem from the Say Amen, Somebody soundtrack.

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I’m Jim McKeown, welcome to Likely Stories, a weekly review of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and biographies.

Aside from Margaret Attwood, I rarely encounter novels from Canada.  However, when Death and the Seaside by Alison Moore grabbed my attention, I was intrigued.  Then I began the novel, and my intrigue meter went off the charts.  Her first novel was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. And her short fiction has been included in Best Short Stories and Best British Horror anthologies and broadcast on BBC Radio.  My intrigue meter went up another notch.

Sofie Hernandez-Simeonidis

Helping artists navigate legal questions is a good way to help the local arts scene

A couple of weeks ago when I was talking about the new gig economy law in California, I mentioned that there’s a great deal of uncertainty about who counts as an artist in the eyes of the law.  The day-to-day realities of being a working artist are so far removed from the experiences of most people—certainly from

If you're looking for something to immediately lift your spirits, give a listen to "Rain Down Fire" by The Rev. Joseph D. Linton and the Progressive Baptist Church Choir of St. Louis, Missouri.

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I’m Jim McKeown, welcome to Likely Stories, a weekly review of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and biographies.

On occasion, I like to dip into some unusual novels referred to as “Chick Lit.”  This popular genre seems to be everywhere I see readers.  Tracey Garvis Graves has written eight novels.  The Girl He Used to Know is her ninth.  Aside from an occasional romp in the bedroom of a pair of students, I found the story amusing with a truly gripping twist.

Sofie Hernandez-Simeonidis

People who play a musical instrument are witnesses to the power of art.

I was walking through the music building the other day at the university and I passed down a long hallway lined with practice rooms. Over the course of a just a couple of minutes—I was walking slowly just to take it all in—I heard violins, pianos, flutes, clarinets, a French Horn, percussion, and a bassoon.  All of the players were working on pieces that sounded difficult, but all were likewise nailing them pretty well, at least when I took my walk.

"Moving on Up the King's Highway" by the otherwise unknown Mellotones is both surprisingly and remarkably tuneful gospel. 

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I’m Jim McKeown, welcome to Likely Stories, a weekly review of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and biographies.

As the companion of two affectionate and smart Labrador Retrievers, I was happy to run across Clive D. L. Wynne’s fascinating story of dogs and their relationship to humans.  Professor Wynne is the founding director of the Canine Science Collaboratory at Arizona State University.  He has published a number of articles, and he has appeared on National Geographic Explorer, PBS, and the BBC.  He lives in Tempe, Arizona.  Dog is Love is his first full length book.


David and Art - "No Twitter"

Mar 9, 2020
Sofie Hernandez-Simeonidis

A culture that wants its information in tweet-sized packages is going to have trouble appreciating art.


When the number nine hitter comes to the plate with one on and no outs in a close game, he’ll often square to bunt. As the pitcher begins his windup the first and third basemen charge in and the person playing second wheels over to cover first.  It’s a complex series of events that unfolds quickly but because it’s not immediately evident what’s going on, those who aren’t familiar with baseball are often left scratching their heads. But if you’re patient and take time to figure it out or ask someone, you’ll gain a greater appreciation for the subtleties that go on between every pitch. (read more)

Little Richard pours as much gleeful energy into the children's spiritual "Joy, Joy, Joy" as he does into any of his better-known pop hits!

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