December 2006 Archives

Friday Random Top 10

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Here it is! In the tradition of American Idle, every Friday I will turn the I-Pod to shuffle and see what it spits out. This Friday's Top Ten:

1. Original of the Species – U2
2. Highway Patrolman – Johnny Cash
3. Fragile – Wire
4. Charlene – Fred Eaglesmith
5. Leader of the Pack – The Shangri-Las
6. The Way Young Lovers Do – Van Morrison
7. Drinkin’ & Cheatin’ & Death – The Waco Brothers
8. Walk it Off – Bellwether
9. Milk it – Nirvana
10. Baby Baby – The Vibrators

What's on your list? Have a Happy New Year!

Movies 2006

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Let’s face it, 2006 was a not a good year for movies. I’ve already discussed here how bad the summer movie season was. In fact movies that were much anticipated (DaVinci Code, Superman, Pirates of the Caribbean) were at best lackluster.

The bad movie year has even caused me to be not as interested in movies in general, e.g.web sites that I used to regularly view, such as Aint it Cool News, are now only checked out once in a while. Also movies that did look interesting went unwatched as I will wait for the DVD. This includes Lucky Number Sleven, The Departed, The Fountain, Prairie Home Companion, and Fast Food Nation.

Having said that here’s a couple of movies that I enjoyed this year:

Sweetland. Hands down the best movie I saw this year. Well crafted, well acted, nice little story. Hopefully this movie gets some attention at Oscar season. You can really see the love the director brought to the story.

Borat. Outrageously funny. Gutsy, funny performance. Not for the faint of heart.

Snakes on a Plane. Couldn’t live up to the hype of its title, but still a good old fashioned fun time at the movies.

V for Vendetta. Some lost opportunities here, but still a decent movie.

An Inconvenient Truth. Who knew you could pair Al Gore and a Powerpoint Presentation and make a compelling, interesting movie? Actually 2006 had a number of great documentaries: The Smartest Men in the Room (was this 2006?), US vs. John Lennon, Neil Young-Heart of Gold, are just a few that were much more entertaining then most “mainstream? movies that were released this year.

Other decent movies I saw this year that are at least worthy of renting: Little Miss Sunshine, Thank You for Smoking, and Marie Antionette.

What movies did you like this year?

Friday Random Top 10

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Here it is! In the tradition of American Idle, every Friday I will turn the I-Pod to shuffle and see what it spits out. This Friday's Top Ten:

1. In the Sweet By and By -- Johnny Cash
2. Center Stage -- Indigo Girls
3. The Crane -- Trip Shakespeare
4. Stewban -- Peter, Paul and Mary
5. I'm Going to Make You Mine -- The Hypstrz
6. Dry Lightning -- Bruce Springsteen
7. Chinese Rock -- The Ramones
8. In the End -- Green Day
9. She's a Lady -- Tom Jones
10. Don't Forget Me -- Gear Daddies

Wow, builds up slow and ends strong. Favorite song this week? Return of the Grievous Angel by Gram Parsons. Great catchy tune, played in the style of Parson's trademark psychedelic country style. I could listen to this song 30 times in a row and not get sick of it.

What's your top 10?

Music 2006

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I did a detour in 2006 with the music I listened to. For some reason I did a lot of backfilling of my music catalog: Finally got CDs of albums that I had long ago, finally scratched an itch on a group that I always wanted to try out, or filled in on some bands that I liked. For that reason there isn’t a whole lot of new stuff that I listened to this year so this list, unfortunately won’t be a list of groovy tunes.

Also the new stuff that I did buy was mostly from long-established artists. Including guys who have been releasing stuff for 50 years (Johnny Cash); 45 years (Bob Dylan); 40 years (Neil Young); and 20 years (Yo La Tengo). There two relatively new acts on my list: My Chemical Romance and Death Cab for Cutie. So with that, here’s my best of a very short 2006 list.

Johnny Cash – A Hundred Highways. I already posted about this album here. But I was actually surprised at how good this was. As someone who has written 3000 words on the meaning of the American Recordings sessions, I had to get this album. I wasn’t expecting much, figuring it was Cashing in on anything recorded by the Man in Black. But this album is solid. Great songs, great stories. A must for any Johnny Cash fan.

Bob Dylan – Modern Times. I’ve really been interested in Dylan’s output lately, he’s really come back from some of that unlistenable stuff that was released in the late 70’s to early 90’s. This album is just as good as Time out of Mind, while not coming close to the brilliance of Blonde on Blonde or Blood on the Tracks. The song Workingman Blues #2 has to be one of my favorite songs this year.

Neil Young – Living with War. I also posted earlier about this album too. This album is incindiary (You Almost Famous fans will get the reference). Probably one of the most political albums put out by a mainstream artist in 35 years. But this album rocks too. Finally, even though Neil pulls no punches on GWB, you lefty liberals aren’t spared either. This album was originally released after just a couple of days of recording. Apparently, a remixed, cleaned up version is or has been released too.

Yo La Tengo – I Am Not Afraid of You and Will Beat Your Ass. Stupid title, great CD. The first song just rocks. The rest of the album has a variety of styles and moods – some I like, some I could do without. It’s amazing how many different kind of songs this band can record. If you wanted to know what the big deal is about Yo La Tengo, this album will give you a pretty good taste.

My Chemical Romance – The Black Parade. Goth rock for the teeny bopper set. This would be my guilty pleasure for the year. Rock and Roll in all its mascara and dyed hair glory. It’s like a bag of potato chips, you know it’s bad for you but you just can’t put the damn bag down.

Death Cab For Cutie – Plans. I’m pretty sure this was released in 2006, apologies if it wasn’t. I posted about one song from this album and continue to get comments. Very sensitive young men singing about love lost and found and the stress of being alive in such a complicated age. Great music if you just want to “chill out.?

Besides those albums from 2006, here are some other musical highlights from this year:

Guided by Voices
. I went big for GbV this year. Great band, great songs. It’s a shame more people didn’t get this band when they were around.

Wire. I picked up Wire’s first three albums. Wire along with The Velvet Underground are one of those bands that you can hear in a hundred other bands. It’s amazing how many riffs from these albums you still hear today in so called “new? bands.

Kiss Alive. One of my first albums and my first concert (December 2, 1977). I’ve been searching for this CD (cheap) for years.

Talking Heads - 77 and More Songs about Buildings and Food. I listened to these albums all the time in 1981-1983. Don’t know what took me so long to pick them up on CD.

Finally what’s the deal with the Black Eye Peas and Fergie? They have released probably two of the dumbest songs I ever heard this year: My Humps and Fergilicious. What’s next ? A song about the fact they like to eat peas on a knife? Stupid Stupid music from a musically talented band (although I’m guessing it’s Fergie’s Humps that got her a recording contract).

What turned you on musically this year?

Friday Random Top 10

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Here it is! In the tradition of American Idle, every Friday I will turn the I-Pod to shuffle and see what it spits out. This Friday's Top Ten:

1. Full Moon Empty Heart -- Belly
2. Leave Mine to Me -- Bad Religion
3. Down There by the Train -- Johnny Cash
4. I Can't Help It -- Hank Williams
5. Too Young -- Nat King Cole
6. California Man -- Cheap Trick
7. Stormy Blues -- Billy Holiday
8. It's Hard to be a Saint in the City -- Bruce Springsteen
9. Copperhead Road -- Steve Earl
10. On the Bus Mall -- The Decemberists

Wow that was eclectic! Favorite Song this week? New England by Billy Bragg. Great song about a guy who wants to break up with his girlfriend, Contains the classic line: "I don't feel bad 'bout letting you go, I just feel sad 'bout letting you know."

What 's your top ten?

Books Read 2006

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December brings to end another year of book reading. Below is a short review of the books I read over the past year. Some of these books were not published in 2006 so it isn’t a review of the best books of 2006 but what I took the time to read.

At Canaan’s Edge – Taylor Branch. The 3rd in Branch’s trilogy of the life and times of Martin Luther King Jr. I had read the first two: Parting the Waters and Pillar of Fire and was absolutely enthralled. So I re-read these two books before I started Canaan’s Edge. It was a three book, ten week, 2,500 page commitment that I was happy to make as these books go through the life and times of MLK and the Civil Rights movement. As someone who was alive during many of the events described in these books -- but too young to remember them -- it is amazing what people went through to get what we now consider basic civil rights. And to think it happened in my lifetime! Strongly suggest checking these out.

Chronicles of Narnia – C.S. Lewis. I read all seven books in the order Lewis intended. As everyone knows these books can be read as an allegory for Christianity, but they are much richer than that. Paradise, as described in the last book, rivals that of Tolkien’s description of the Grey Havens in LOTR.

Will You Miss Me When I'm Gone – Mark Zwonitzer. Biography of the Carter Family from their early roots in the Virginny mountain back-country to their reign as the "First Family of Country Music" at the Grand Ol’ Opry. Fascinating book even if you're not into country music.

Ghengis Khan and the Making of the Modern World – John Weatherford. No it's not Representative Phyllis Kahn's autobiography. This engaging book is about how Ghengis Khan and his offspring conquered Asia, the Middle East, and Central Europe. I spent a couple of weeks in Warsaw in 1987 and wondered why a small but noticable portion of the population had faint Asian features. Now I know.

Walk-On: The Spiritual Journey of U2 - Steve Stockman. Biography of U2 and how their (now) overlooked Christianity influences this great band.

Rip it Up and Start Again: Postpunk 1978-84 - Simon Reynolds. History of the (mostly) British punk bands that came after the punk explosion of the Sex Pistols and the Clash. Good for its history and to (re)introduce you to this cool, cool music. I ended up buying a lot of CD's after reading this book.

Neo-Bohemia: Art and Commerce in the Post-Industrial City - Richard Lloyd. A very scholarly book about how the down-in-the-dumps industrial neighborhood of Wicker Park in Chicago was turned into a very hip and cool place by artists and punks looking for a cheap place to live. As with most scholarly tomes, it drives home its thesis over and over again. Only for the urban studies major.

Candy Girl - Diablo Cody. Story about a woman living in Minneapolis who became a stripper for a year. Since I'm not a "strib club guy" this story was an eye opener. Although the book takes a breezy tone, there are no happy lights shone on the stripping industry. Stripping sounds like the degrading, soul-crushing job you think it would be. A fun and disturbing read (if that is possible).

Ladies and Gentlement, The Bronx is Burning - Jonathan Mahler. A great story of NYC and 1977 – a vital year that saw the emergence of Reggie Jackson as a Yankee, the serial crimes of Son of Sam, a hotly contested mayoral race, and a devastating blackout. This was the NYC of yore – falling apart, gritty, crime-ridden. Great story, I would read it for the description of the 1977 blackout alone.

The Mother Tongue – Bill Bryson. A look at the English language and how it developed into the language we read, speak, and write today. Very engaging if you are at all interested in the English language.

The Looming Tower: Al Qaeda and the Road to 9/11 – Lawrence Wright. The story of the rise of al Qaeda and Radical Islam. Quite fascinating and a little scary. Really points out how easily the government could have stopped the 9/11 attacks with just a little bit of imagination.

Smartest Guys in the Room – Bethany McLean. The story about the rise and fall of Enron. Amazing story of how Enron’s stock was manipulated and how it all crashed in just a few short months. If you have a finance or accounting degree you will probably enjoy this book as there are detailed descriptions of the financial games Enron played. But even if you have a passing knowledge of business you will be outraged at Enron's shenanigans while scratching your head wondering how did Enron ever think they could get away with all they did.

The Day the Universe Changed - James Burke. A history of science and how discoveries propelled the human race. Not the best book in the world and somewhat rambling. I would suggest A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson if interested in this subject.

What did you read this year?

Friday Random Top 10

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Elvis

Here it is! In the tradition of American Idle, every Friday I will turn the I-Pod to shuffle and see what it spits out. This Friday's Top Ten:

ELT – Wilco
Machine Gun – Jimi Hendrix
Mr. Grieves – Pixies
The Comedians – Roy Orbison
Runaway Wind – Paul Westerberg
Glow in the Dark Easy Cheese – Mitch Hedberg
Mrs. Leroy Brown – Loretta Lynn
Blue Moon of Kentucky – Elvis Presley
Masters of War – Bob Dylan
I want to be the Boy – White Stripes


5000 Songs!

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Over the weekend I uploaded my 5,000th song on my I-pod (Guided by Voices’ 14 Cheerleader Coldfront). Having 5,000 songs can be both a curse and a blessing. Sometimes its hard finding something I want or it’s difficult choosing between so many options. However, with 5,000 songs I can find music that fits any mood. Need some cheesy Tom Jones? Check. Want to rock out? I have my choice of Pearl Jam, Rage against the Machine, Nirvana, Van Halen, etc. Want to go KQ on it? Here’s the Beatles, Stones, Who, Bowie, Neil Young. Feeling pious? Have some Johnny Cash or Elvis singing Gospel. Seventies Punk? Here’s Wire, The Clash or Sex Pistols. Into beatnik poetry? I have Allen Ginsburg reciting Howl and Jack Kerouac reading from On the Road with Steve Allen on jazz piano. Low-Fi mood? Here’s some Pavement and Guided by Voices.

With that here is the top 10 artists on my I-pod based on the number of songs:

Johnny Cash – 197
Guided by Voices – 166
Bob Dylan – 100
R.E.M. – 99
Neil Young – 95
Elvis Presley – 88
Elvis Costello – 87
The Beatles – 75
Handsome Family – 68
Fred Eaglesmith – 66

If you want to know what my musical tastes are? There’s no better way then looking at the genre of the songs on my I-pod. I’m pretty vigilant in listing the genre’s for each song and while I’m sure someone could argue the choices (for instance what’s the difference between alternative and alternative-punk?) I can stand by them. Here is a listing of all the genre’s for the 5,012 songs on my I-pod.

Alt-Country – 269
Alternative – 401
Alternative & Punk – 935
Alt-Folk – 63
Blues/R&B – 62
Comedy – 6
Country – 484
Folk – 517
Folk-Rock – 33
Funk – 8
Gospel/Religious – 39
Hard Rock – 56
Hip Hop/Rap – 14
Indie Rock – 18
Industrial – 18
Jazz – 154
Metal – 10
New Wave – 162
Oddity – 3
Pop – 281
Punk – 145
R&B – 51
Rap – 2
Reggae – 14
Rock – 1,114
Rock/Rap – 3
Rockabilly – 54
Ska – 45
Spoken Word – 40
Techno – 11

What’s on your I-pod/MP3 Player?

Friday Random Top Ten

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Here it is! In the tradition of American Idle, every Friday I will turn the I-Pod to shuffle and see what it spits out. This Friday's Top Ten:

1. Indifference - Pearl Jam
2. Almost Blue - Elvis Costello
3. Let's Ride - Guided by Voices
4. Summertime - Janis Joplin
5. Burn, Baby Burn - Rev. F.D. Kirkpatrick
6. Returning the Screw - Fugazi
7. Mincer Ray - Guided by Voices
8. We Got the Neutron Bomb - The Weirdos
9. Leaving on a Jet Plane - Peter, Paul, and Mary
10. Adult Books - X

Favorite Song this week? Since I have two Guided by Voices songs in this week's top 10, I thought I'd go for the trifecta and call out GbV's Teenage FBI as my favorite. It's a perfect sugary "teenager-in-love" song with hooks a mile wide, frothy lyrics, and a synthesizer-led chorus that just brings down the house. More on Guided by Voices in the near future.

What's yourTop 10?

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from December 2006 listed from newest to oldest.

November 2006 is the previous archive.

January 2007 is the next archive.

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