Sunday, December 31, 2006


Welcome to the year-end "double issue" of Sunday Shuffle. I loaded a bunch of albums onto iTunes this week for the aborted best-of 2006 mix, so things could be interesting today. I have also decided that this will be the last of this feature - we have over 18 GB in iTunes right now and I need to clear a lot of stuff out that doesn't need to be there. And this has really run its course anyway, I think. So, here we go...

1. The Fitted Shirt/Spoon (4) - Last played on Aug. 19
2. Everything Hits At Once/Spoon (11) - Last played on Dec. 8
3. Dory Previn/Camera Obscura (7) - Last played on Nov. 29
4. Sweetness and Life/Portastatic (11) - Last played on Dec. 26
5. Darling We're Out of Time/Cracker (6) - Last played on Dec. 27
6. Quiet Town/Josh Rouse (22) - Last played on Dec. 21
7. Violin For Mom/Kathleen Edwards (8) - Last played on Dec. 27
8. Hot Soft Light/The Hold Steady (13) - Last played on Dec. 20
9. White Collar Boy/Belle and Sebastian (6) - Last played on Dec. 13
10. Can't Hear You Coming/The Whigs (4) - Last played on Dec. 20
11. Hang Me Up To Dry/Cold War Kids (1) - Last played whenever I listened to Up In Rags on CD
12. The Other Shoe/Eels (3) - Last played on Nov. 20
13. Should've Been In Love/Wilco (5) - Last played on Nov. 18
14. Guide Down Denied/Grandaddy (6) - Last played on Dec. 22
15. What's The World Got In Store/Wilco (9) - Last played on Dec. 17
16. Left And Right/Brendan Benson (8) - Last played on Oct. 1
17. Box Full of Letters/Wilco (6) - Last played on Dec. 22
18. Same Kooks/The Hold Steady (14) - Last played on Dec. 20
19. The Riverside/Cracker (6) - Last played on Oct. 7
20. Nobody But You/The Black Keys (7) - Last played on Nov. 5

Friday, December 29, 2006


I've been doing a year-end music mix for a while now, trying to boil everything down to a single disc. I've been trying to do it this year but I keep leaving off songs that should be there - just not enough minutes on the disc. So, I've decided to scrap it for this year. Instead, I'm highlighting songs off of my top ten albums of the year. And from now on, I'll just do a mix every few months or so and won't have to worry about saving songs for the year-ender or anything like that. Yes, I think way too much about these things.

Here's the tracklist...

1. Poison Cup/M. Ward
2. Chinese Translation/M. Ward
3. Half Dead/The Mountain Goats
4. Woke Up New/The Mountain Goats
5. Chips Ahoy/The Hold Steady
6. First Night/The Hold Steady
7. Fire Island, AK/The Long Winters
8. Honest/The Long Winters
9. Somerville/Pernice Brothers
10. PCH One/Pernice Brothers
11. Well Thought Out Twinkles/Silversun Pickups
12. Little Lover's So Polite/Silversun Pickups
13. The Chinatown Bus/Bishop Allen
14. Click Click Click/Bishop Allen
15. Yankee Bayonet (I Will Be Home Then)/The Decemberists
16. Summersong/The Decemberists
17. Don't Know (Why You Stay)/The Essex Green
18. Penny and Jack/The Essex Green
19. For New Starts/Centro-Matic
20. Take A Rake/Centro-Matic

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

BOOKS 2006

This is the first time I have not read more books than the previous year since I started keeping track of my reading back in 2001. My goal for the year was 40; I managed 38, the same number I read last year (Crossover by Joel Shepherd was the most recent book. It's not a bad thing and while it wouldn't have been a big deal if I hadn't gotten an equal number, I still would have been disappointed. What wasn't diasppointing were the books I read, from science fiction and fantasy to thrillers and literary fiction with a couple forays into non-fiction as well. Obviously, I don't just read books that came out this year and the list can reflect that; however, 24 of the 38 were published in the U.S. for the first time in 2006 - a very high percentage for me. Here's the 10 I liked the most...

1. The Empire of Ice Cream by Jeffrey Ford
2. Magic for Beginners by Kelly Link
3. River of Gods by Ian McDonald
4. Map of Dreams by M. Rickert
5. Shriek: An Afterword by Jeff Vandermeer
6. Stardust by Neil Gaiman
7. The Brief History of the Dead by Kevin Brockmeier
8. The Echo Maker by Richard Powers
9. The World to Come by Dara Horn
10. Talk Talk by T.C. Boyle

Publisher of the Year: Pyr (River of Gods; Paragea; Infoquake; Crossover)
Publisher of the Year, runner-up: Golden Gryphon (The Empire of Ice Cream; Map of Dreams)
TV 2006

Our TV-watching capabilites changed this year with the addition of a DVR to our digital cable package that also includes HBO (a channel I can't live without for all the great original shows). Not only does it mean my wife can record every episode ever of "What Not to Wear" but we can get 2 shows recorded at once if we're not around (or can record 2 and watch a third on another TV). It's been great. I also discovered a number of shows this past year that have made the list and made me wonder how I could have missed them originally. The good news is that I'm hooked now, I guess. Anyway, here's the list...

1. The Wire (HBO)
2. Battlestar Galactica (Sci Fi Channel)
3. 24 (Fox)
4. The Office (NBC)
5. Deadwood (HBO)
6. Veronica Mars (first UPN, now CW)
7. Scrubs (NBC)
8. Lost (ABC)
9. Daily Show/Colbert Report (Comedy Central)
10. Entourage (HBO)
MUSIC 2006

This past year saw me drastically change how I purchased and listened to music. Sure, I still bought a lot of CDs and spent time listening to them in the car, on the stereo, and in my headphones. I also spent just as much time listening on the computer and purchased many albums in download form through eMusic. As a result, I picked up over 100 albums in 2006 (and have gotten 5 more in the last few days thanks to Christmas gifts)...that has to be the most music I've ever absorbed in a year. Really, I'm still absorbing much of that music, both 2006 releases as well as albums from years past. This list reflects what I've been listening to and enjoying the most in a year where I've found plenty to enjoy by artists new to me and old favorites; in a couple months I may have a different opinion (my 2005 list would look very different today) but that's the nature of the beast. Anyway, here are my top ten albums of 2006...

1. M. Ward/Post-War
2. The Mountain Goats/Get Lonely
3. The Hold Steady/Boys and Girls in America
4. The Long Winters/Putting the Days to Bed
5. Pernice Brothers/Live a Little
6. Silversun Pickups/Carnavas
7. Bishop Allen/a virtual album comprised of highlights from 9 EPs
8. The Decemberists/The Crane Wife
9. The Essex Green/Cannibal Sea
10. Centro-Matic/Fort Recovery

Sunday, December 24, 2006


Lots to do in the next couple hours - make crab dip, pack up the presents, shower and shave, etc. - so I'll keep things short and to the point today...

1. Muzzle of Bees/Wilco (5)
2. Salesman at the Day of the Parade/Rogue Wave (6)
3. In the Hidden Places/The Mountain Goats (1)
4. Wherever You Go/Built To Spill (1)
5. My Sweet Annette/Drive-By Truckers (3)
6. I'm Lonely (But I Ain't That Lonely Yet)/The White Stripes (5)
7. Keep Your Hands off Her/The Black Keys (7)
8. Hornets! Hornets!/The Hold Steady (2)
9. Dear Sarah Shu/John Vanderslice (4)
10. The Mighty Midshipman/Centro-Matic (7)

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 18, 2006


You may have noticed the sparseness of new posts in recent weeks. It's not that I've been busier than normal per se, though the weekends have had more activities than usual since Thanksgiving. And it's not like I haven't started composing posts in my head either. Just one of those periods. Anyway, I'll try and do a big update and touch on at least some of the things I've been meaning to talk about. After today, I might be sporadic again until next week when I plan on doing my Best of 2006 posts. So, I'll stop rambling on about the blog and start actually doing something with it...


I am currently reading my 38th book of the year, which would tie last year's total if it ends up being the last one. I would like to try and get another one read but I finally realized I couldn't keep putting off all of the SF magazines that have been piling up for months - in fact, I got around to finishing the Sept. issue of Asimov's and reading the whole of the Sept. F&SF within the last week-and-a-half. And after I finish reading Crossover, I will dive into the Oct./Nov. double issues of both magazines.

The first book of November was The Echo Maker by Richard Powers. I've been meaning to read Powers' work for a number of years and hadn't gotten around to it. The reviews and descriptions of his new novel made me dive in and I'm glad I did. Very glad. It's a novel about someone who gets hurt and losing his sense of connection to the people and things he cares about the most - Capgras Syndrome. His sister is trying to help him while dealing with the fact he thinks she is an imposter. A famous doctor is in the mix too - all of them are trying to deal with who they really are. And if I haven't convinced you to read it, maybe the fact it won the National Book Award will.

Next up for me was Conversations with Tom Petty by Paul Zollo, which is pretty much as advertised - a book-length interview with Tom Petty about his life and music. I've always been a big fan of Petty and the book didn't disappoint. Even better, I used it as an opportunity to listen to his music and was reminded again how good of a songwriter he has been over the years (yes, his last 2 albums have been uneven but there are still some really good songs on them). It also inspired me with my music and the book led to the writing of my "Holding Pattern" in a very concrete way. Last week I covered "A Face in the Crowd" and it was received well. So thanks, T.P.

I followed that up with Firmin, a short novel by Sam Savage. It's the story of a rat who learns how to read and spends his time in a deteriorating area of Boston, first in a bookstore and later as a pet of a science fiction writer. A love of books, of words, propels this story long and it is very good. Anyone who is a reader will come to love Firim the rat, I think. Thanks to the Lit-Blog Co-op for highlighting this book.

I then turned to some short fiction, specifically the debut collection from M. Rickert, Map of Dreams. I've been reading Rickert's stories in F&SF for a number of years and she has been one of my favorite writers during that time period. From the fairy tale update of "Leda" to the nested stories of "Cold Fires" to the longing of "The Chambered Fruit" to the fable "Moorina of the Seals" this is a collection you need to read.

Most recently I read another Discworld book, my first this year. Reaper Man sees Death relieved of his duties and working as a field hand while ancient wizard Windle Poons has found he is still alive even in death. The stories cross, of course, in another funny fantasy romp from Terry Pratchett. After I read one of his books, I want to keep reading more. I probably will turn to another one in the near future.


I recently decided to give Sufjan Stevens another try. I picked up Illinoise last year and while I liked some of the songs, the whole thing just seemed overblown and overhyped. So, I had it on while I was in the car last week and I finally got the whole of it. I liked it. Maybe I let all the blogger hype get in the way last year. It's not my favorite album but I do enjoy the melodic sweep of the entire work.

I've had similar problems connecting the Cat Power's The Greatest, which was released earlier this year. I decided to give it a shot in the car too and I found that I enjoyed it much more than I previously had. Maybe part of my problem was that I was expecting something more along the lines of Jenny Lewis or Neko Case and this Cat Power album is not that. I will say that I loved the title track from the get-go - now the rest of the record doesn't suffer so much in comparison for me.

I guess the moral of the story is that I should always try listening to things in the car...


A couple weeks ago I was ready to go back to reading only trades and cutting out buying single issues except for 52 (at least until that's over in 20 weeks...and yes, I'm behind on writing about the series again). Why? Well, I have nowhere to put the single issues and don't want to go back to the bagging and boxing of years past. We don't have room and it's too much effort. But in the end, I've been enjoying buying and reading things as they come out. So, I'm not going to stress over it. Some stuff I will trade back to the comics shop, some I will keep until collected editions come out, and some I'll just give away or even recycle. But I can accept that I like buying and reading comics.

I was particularly pleased with the first issue of the new Justice Society of America that came out a few weeks ago. I've liked the heroes of the JSA for many many years, stemming from my love of All-Star Squadron and Infinity Inc. back in the 80s. There are only a handful of those original heroes still kicking around in the DCU (Green Lantern, Flash, and Wildcat) but they form the basis for this new team, which is made up of the children and grandchildren of Golden Age heroes or in some cases, the people who have assumed the mantle of heroes like Mr. Teriffic and Dr. Mid-Nite. This issue opens up with a reference to World War III, which appears to be an upcoming part of 52; I like those kind of teases. We meet a new Mr. America, to whom bad things are happening; catch up with Damage, Hourman, and Liberty Belle; are introduced to Maxine Hunkle, a new hero who is very excited to be part of the group; discover a new Starman who lives in a mental hospital when he's not out doing good deeds; and learn something shocking at the end (of course). All of this is followed with a one page teaser for the rest of the first year of the comic and it makes me even more excited to keep reading. That's how you do a comic book.

Grant and I finally finished watching Justice League Unlimited Season One on DVD the week after Thanksgiving. Man, what a great show.


Okay, I think this post has gotten long enough. I'll cover more in my year-end lists next week...

Sunday, December 17, 2006


I am planning a giant update post to try and cram in all the things I've been meaning to write about the last few weeks - look for it later today or tomorrow. For now, here's some more songs...

1. Star Sign/Teenage Fanclub (3) - Hey, there's a horseshoe on my door...
2. The Dishwasher's Dream/Marah (5) - Born with a face that life would erase...
3. What's the World Got In Store/Wilco (8) - Close your eyes and go to sleep, baby...
4. Mrs. Robinson/The Lemonheads (1) - Do do do do do do do do do do do do do...
5. Quiet Town/Josh Rouse (20) - I know somewhere there is a party going down...
6. Arms & Hearts/The Hold Steady (3) - To me it just felt like six or seven seconds...
7. Rose Parade/Elliott Smith (9) - You asked me to come down and watch the parade...
8. There Goes the Sun/Pernice Brothers (3) - Now always I wait for you...
9. Out Right Now/Material Issue (5) - Well if the bats in your sky continue to fly...
10. Red-Eyed And Blue/Wilco (10) - We've got solid state technology...

Sunday, December 10, 2006


Today is all about laundry, cleaning, doing my progress reports, and football. And making another token entry to pretend that I'm keeping up with the blog...

1. Pigs That Ran Straightaway Into The Water, Triumph Of/The Mountain Goats (4)
2. Less Than You Think/Wilco (4)
3. A Stone/Okkervil River (5)
4. Railroad Man/Eels (2)
5. Cannot Eat Better Not Sleep/The Prayers and Tears of Arthur Digby Sellers (6)
6. Poison Cup/M.Ward (12)
7. Chips and Dip/Spoon (7)
8. About You/Teenage Fanclub (1)
9. Priest's Knees/Destroyer (6) - It's been six months since I've heard this song!
10. December/The Lemonheads (5)

Friday, December 08, 2006


Hard to believe this is the tenth download period already...

Aimee Mann/One More Drifter in the Snow - An Aimee Mann Christmas album - how could I not get this? It's good, of course, and I play on listening to it for many many Christmases to come.

Belle and Sebastian/The Life Pursuit - My brother brought his record player and a selection of vinyl to PA for Thanksgiving and I got to listen to quite a bit. I'd heard a few songs off of this (thanks to TJ) but hadn't gotten around to it. One listen to the whole thing and I had to get it. Really digging "Another Sunny Day" and "Dress Up in You."

Amy Millan/Honey From the Tombs - I really like the Stars album from last year, so I thought I'd give this a shot. It's mostly a folk record, though there's some interesting musical jumps within songs. More importantly, it's good. "Baby I" is a great great song.

Sloan/One Chord to Another - Here's another album I grabbed thanks to my brother. I'd heard good things about Sloan and he brought this CD with him to Indiana back in October. I liked it and now I've got it. Key track through the first few listens is "Autobiography."

The Whigs/Give 'Em All A Big Fat Lip - I've been hearing good things about this band and finally decided to give it a shot. Glad I did. Solid rock and roll band from the South with a number of great songs - "Violet in Furs," "Written Invitation," and "Technology" are all keepers.

Tokyo Police Club/A Lesson in Crime - A new band on the scene. I'd call 'em a cross between The Strokes and Arcade Fire. A 7 song EP that's over in 16 minutes. My new favorite song ever is "Citizens of Tomorrow."

Sunday, December 03, 2006


It's the only post I don't have to think about and since this week was a busy one coming off of a busy weekend when we weren't home...this is all I have to show for the week. Hopefully, I'll post some actual material this week. I did download a couple new albums this week and loaded another one onto iTunes, so we'll see if any show up here....

1. Mr. Grieves/TV on the Radio (9) - A Pixies cover done a capella. Brilliant.

2. Handshake Drugs/Wilco (10) - I've really been enjoying A Ghost is Born tracks when I hit them in shuffle or when Tweedy has done them solo; I really need to listen to the album as a whole again.

3. Powder Burns/The Twilight Singers (7) - The title track from this year's album, which I don't think I've talked about. It's great moody rock and roll. I actually listened to this in the car this week.

4. The Two Sides of Monsieur Valentine/Spoon (3) - The new Spoon album can't come out fast enough.

5. A Very Good Idea/Material Issue (5) - I wonder if Material Issue would still be together today if Jim Ellison hadn't killed himself. Well, we have three albums at least.

6. Broken Beads/New Pornographers (4) - One of Dan Bejar's contributions to their most recent album; has anyone heard the Swan Lake album? Worth downloading?

7. California Stars/Jeff Tweedy (3) - I like that you could download these tracks with a purchase of the new DVD. I'm such a Tweedy guy it's sick.

8. Little Round Mirrors/Harvey Danger (39) - Obviously, I've to this song more than any others on iTunes this year. It never gets old.

9. Sell Your Hair/Pernice Brothers (1) - This is off of Discover a Lovelier You, last year's offering from Joe Pernice. I like the new one more but this is still a good album. And no, this is not the album I just loaded this morning.

10. Carolina/M.Ward (7) - This comes from an early EP, Scene From #12, and is the best song on it. And with Ward's music, that's saying something.

Sunday, November 26, 2006


It's the "I Drove 600 Miles and I'm Very Tired" edition!

1. Automatic Situation/Joseph Arthur (8)
2. Future Foe Scenarios/Silversun Pickups (3)
3. Razzle Dazzle Rose/Camera Obscura (9)
4. Christopher's Revolt/Brendan Benson (8)
5. A Glow/Okkervil River (3)
6. Pale Green Things/The Mountain Goats (3)
7. The Dishwasher's Dream/Marah (4)
8. Understanding Salesmen/Eels (3)
9. Dreamer In My Dreams/Wilco (3)
10. Iron Woman/Devin Davis (3)

Friday, November 24, 2006


I meant to post about this before I left but oh well. One of my big projects for any vacation is what music I will bring with me. My CD case has 24 slots in it, so that's what I have to work with. When you're only gone 5 days, it's not so bad. But still, you want music to drive to and to be able to relax to at the hotel. The process is a bit different these days since I have so much music that is just on the computer. I burned six albums onto disc for the trip and brought 2 more I'd burned for summer vacation. Anyway, here's the list; it's a good look at what I've been digging recently...

Beck/The Information
Centro-Matic/Fort Recovery
The Decemberists/The Crane Wife
Drive-By Truckers/A Blessing and A Curse
The Essex Green/Cannibal Sea - burned for summer vacation
Golden Smog/Another Fine Day
Harvey Danger/Little By Little - burned for summer vacation
The Hold Steady/Boys and Girls in America - newly burned
Ben Kweller/Ben Kweller - newly burned
The Long Winters/Putting the Days to Bed
Margot and the Nuclear So and So's/The Dust of Retreat - newly burned
The Mountain Goats/Get Lonely
My Morning Jacket/Z
The National/Alligator
Pernice Brothers/Live a Little - newly burned
Tom Petty/Wildflowers
Portastatic/Be Still Please - newly burned
The Shins/Chutes Too Narrow
Silversun Pickups/Carnavas
Simon Dawes/Carnivore
Sparklehorse/Dreamt for Light Years in the Belly of A Mountain
Matthew Sweet and Susanna Hoffs/Under the Covers Vol. 1
John Vanderslice/Pixel Revolt
M. Ward/Post-War - newly burned

I'm in a hotel in Williamsport, PA as I write this; I've been at this hotel over Thanskgiving weekend for a number of years now and in Williamsport for almost every Thanksgiving of my life. It's tradition.

We left on Wednesday and actually got to leave earlier than we ever have - 6:45 or so when we hit the road. It was nice to make the drive during the daytime and we made good time. It was weird to be among the first members of the family to arrive rather than the last. I stayed up too late that night visiting with my cousins but I just went to bed earlier last night.

We had 21 people at the dinner yesterday, ranging in age from my 98 year-old step-grandfather to my 9 year-old son. The food at the restaurant was very good as usual - I had a cup of creamy pumpkin soup, a fantastic house salad with blue cheese dressing, and a main entree of horseradish-encrusted prime rib, mashed potatoes, and broccolini. I didn't have dessert there because later on in the evening we had our traditional homemade ice cream and pie (I had a piece of shoofly and a piece of apple crumb). Good food and good company.

Today the men and the women separate for lunch and there will be various shopping excursions (Jill and Grant are on one now) and more euchre later on (I haven't gotten any in yet!). It's a nice relaxing day. I just finished reading a story (in book #36) and am listening to KEXP. I have to call soon to make the men's lunch reservation and I'll probably swing by the local comics shop later. I can see down into the hotel pool. The sun is shining brightly. Hope everyone else has had a good weekend so far and that it will continue.

Sunday, November 19, 2006


It's the unluckiest shuffle of them all...or is it? It probably isn't. I've been in shuffle mode all week so I'll be interested to see if some of the same songs pop up or if I get ones I haven't heard all week. I've pushed a lot of songs into double digit plays this week too - will the shuffle reflect that? Let's find out...

1. I Must Be High/Wilco (7) - Last played Oct. 28
2. Sweetness and Life/Portastatic (7) - Last played Nov. 9
3. Today's Undertaking/M. Ward (13) - Last played Nov. 16
4. Boys, You Won't/The Wrens (2) - Last played Sept. 28
5. The Lovers' Rights/The Rosebuds (9) - Last played July 27
6. Confetti/The Lemonheads (1) - Last played when I last listened to It's A Shame About Ray on CD
7. We're Just Friends/Wilco (6) - Last played Sept. 29
8. Call To Arms/Black Angels (6) - Last played Aug. 18 (also includes a bonus track at the end)
9. She's A Jar/Wilco (8) - Last played Oct. 8
10. The Delicate Place (4) - Last played Aug. 12

Only one song in double digits and one song I've already heard this week - and it's the same song! I see we're back to the high Wilco content, which reminds me I need to get that mix out to Paul (it's coming!). Next Sunday we'll be driving back from PA, so the shuffle may have to skip a week. Horrible thought, I know.

Friday, November 17, 2006


I've been on an adrenaline high the last 28 hours or so and it's finally starting to wear off. Why? I started writing a new song on Wednesday night, finished it yesterday afternoon, had Graham work out a guitar solo/accompaniment to it, and then we performed it last night right around this time. It got a good response from the crowd and friends - the owner of Front Porch even came over to tell me it was a good song, a keeper. That made me feel very good. I am proud of the song and I'm still surpirsed at how quickly it came to me. It's called "Holding Pattern" and when I get around to recording it will definitely make the cut.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

52.21 - 52.26

DC's weekly series hit its halfway point the day after Halloween and we're still getting more questions than answers, though that ratio will have to shift in the second half if 52 will ultimately prove to be worthwhile. There's definitely enough happening to keep my interest 26 weeks in, which is enough for now.

Much of these six issues deals with the growing "family" of Black Adam - Isis's missing brother is found and becomes Isis. They change the terms of their deal with China and meet with Dr. Sivana's family. We also see more of Intergang and The Crime Bible. Bruno Mannheim is up to something...

The Question and Renee Montoya parts ways with the Black Marvel Family, meeting up with Richard Dragon. The question once again comes up - who is Montoya?

Lex Luthor's metagene project and his new heroes of Infinity Inc. are also a heavy focus. We see Luthor take away the powers of one of his team, resulting in her death. This concerns the Teen Titans, who are seen in full for the first time in the series. Steel is always continuing his investigation as well.

We are introduced to Super-Chief, see him in a new version of the JLA led by Firestorm, and die. Why? It does tie-in somewhat to Ralph Dibny's tour of magical places by Doctor Fate's helmet in search for his dead wife. Wow, that sounds really odd when you write it down.

There's been no sign of our space heroes; we see more signs that Skeets is up to something terrible. Ambush Bug turns up with the new JLA and it's as funny as ever. The sees of Checkmate are sown. And what's happening at the island where all the mad scientist have gathered... Egg Fu?

Who is Supernova? What is Luthor really up to? What is Black Adam really up to? What is Skeets up to? How will all of this tie together? 26 issues to find out...

My second post a year ago talked about how I had achieved my goal of 36 books read; I had even accomplished that goal a few weeks before the post (on November 11). I was also confindent that I would reach 40 books read by the end of the year; in reality, I only read 2 more books the rest of the way.

For comparison's sake, I am currently working on book #33 and have just under 100 pages to go. I am hoping to finish it today, though I will be distracted by football and the laundry (I suppose blogging counts too). If I manage to finish, I'll have 49 days left in the year to read 7 more books. The margins for falling behind just get worse and worse. Oh well. I'm enjoying the process anyway.

It's the golden birthday of Sunday Shuffle! Ha ha heh. Here's the music...

1. Little Round Mirrors/Harvey Danger (38)
2. Monday/Wilco (6)
3. El Otro Lado/Josh Rouse (7)
4. On a Freezing Chicago Street/Margot and the Nuclear So and So's (4)
5. 6 String Belief/Son Volt (3)
6. Sounds Better In The Song/Drive-By Truckers (1)
7. Ain't That Enough/Teenage Fanclub (1)
8. Little Lover's So Polite/Silversun Pickups (2)
9. Dinu Lipatti's Bones/The Mountain Goats (3)
10. Oxygen/Aux Send/Grandaddy (7)

Fun Fact: The totals plays for the last nine (34 combined) don't even add up to the Harvey Danger track (38)

Friday, November 10, 2006


Yep, it's been a year since I made my first post on my third blog. Today is my 153rd post, which means I've average one every 2.4 days or so. That's not too bad for me. Thanks for stopping by and reading my ramblings; I hope you continue to do so as I begin year 2.

To help me celebrate, go here and watch this spiffy new trailer for "Spider-Man 3." Can't wait!

Thursday, November 09, 2006


Second month with a higher number of downloads and now that they're changing the pricing structure, I'm very happy that I upgraded. Anyway, here's what I grabbed...

Portastatic/Be Still Please - Lots of string and trumpet on this nine song set, which is very very good. I especially love "You Blanks."

Yo La Tengo/I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass - This is my first experience with Yo La Tengo and I'm glad I grabbed this album. Lots of jazzy touches. My only problem is that it's a bit too long; a few songs are disposable. But come one, how can you not love "Mr. Tough?"

Margot and the Nuclear So and So's/The Dust of Retreat - Huge indie band from Indianapolis that works both in the small and more epic musical styles. The more I hear it, the better it gets. Current favorite (it shifts with every listen) is "Jen Is Bringing the Drugs."

Okkervil River/Black Sheep Boy - Yes, I know I'm behind the times on this one. Their "The President's Dead" single is what made me finally grab it. So, so good. It's hard to go wrong with "For Real" or "Black" or "A Stone."

The Mountain Goats/We Shall All Be Healed - Since I can't stop playing the new one, I figured I should delve into the back catalogue. I've only listened twice so far but it's good.

The Decemberists/Picaresqueties - Same thing here, although I've already started grabbing their back catalogue. Nothing major here but it's solid.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006


Today's news that Donald Rumsfeld will no longer be the Secretary of Defense makes me very very very happy. In fact, it almost makes me happier than the election results do. Almost. Democratic control of the House and Senate (looks like); a woman as Speaker of the House; a black governor elected for only the second time; even a Muslim candidate winning. Wow. Makes me feel good about the country and goes a long way towards erasing the despair from a couple years ago. A good day.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


I did this afternoon around 2:45. It was very quiet at the polling place, which meant a quick in and out. I was flabbergasted to learn that our method of voting has changed since the last time - we now have to fill in bubbles on paper! How does that happen? Sure, the punch hold method we used to have wasn't exactly state of the art but using a pen?!? Technology did come into play at the end of the process, as we fed our ballot into something that looked like a copier. Wha? Anyway, I hope I wake up tomorrow in a world where the Republicans took some serious losses.

I also made another vote this week, one with my purchasing power and palate. For a number of years, I would use Taco Bell brand taco mix - I always liked eating there and the taste was fine. However, it would give me pretty good heartburn and I've been going longer and longer between having them for dinner. Well, this week I decided to try Old El Paso, a package that included both hard and soft shells (a necessity in our family). I just finished eating dinner a short while ago and I quite enjoyed the taste. Plus, no heartburn (and their hard shells are pretty good). Sure, not as hard-hitting as an election but important to me nonetheless.

Monday, November 06, 2006


We added a DVR to our cable subscription at the end of September. We immediately loved being able to record something on the main TV without having to leave that channel on. I also started using the ability to pause and rewind live TV while watching football and baseball. Then we discovered you could record 2 things at once, which comes in very handy when no one is home to watch anything. It's been great.

Naturally, I took advantage of the opportunity and captured a lot of the new fall shows. My days would be spent trying to catch up on the previous nights' TV, albeit at a faster pace. I've noticed something, though. All that TV is starting to dwindle.

I gave up "The Nine" after only a few episodes. I tried and discarded "Help Me Help You." Just tonight I have given up on both "Heroes" (which started out so promisingly) and "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip." I've still been watching "Gilmore Girls" but I'm not really sure why, which means chances are good it will be gone soon.

There are still good shows to watch, of course. "The Wire" remains one of the best shows ever on television and this season has been fantastic so far (I watch it On Demand before it airs on Sunday night). My new favorite show is "Battlestar Galactica," which is just incredible. How did I ever live without it? And while "Veronica Mars" started out slow, it's still really good. Yes, I'm still watching "Lost." I'm having some frustrations with how the story is being told but part of that is having too many characters to focus on. The last drama I'm still watching is one of the new ones, "Friday Night Lights." I've always found Kyle Chandler interesting to watch, as well as Connie Britton (plus, she's hot). And the story has been good if not incredibly original.

And the comedy side, there are only 3 (at least until "Scrubs comes back in a few weeks) - "How I Met Your Mother," "My Name is Earl," and "The Office." All three still make me laugh several times a half hour but "The Office" is the cream of the crop ("Tuna!").

Oh yeah, still watching "The Amazing Race" too. The only reality show I still find worthwhile.

Hmm, 7 1/2 hours of TV a week not counting sports. Well, it was worse...

Sunday, November 05, 2006


This feature doesn't feel quite so pointless now that I've posted some actual content this week. Your mileage may vary...

1. Them & Me/Brendan Benson (4) - Wonder if we'll get a new Brendan Benson solo album or a second Raconteurs album first?

2. Broom People/The Mountain Goats (3) - I really need to do a review of their latest album - it's so so good.

3. the sun fell on you (ps 119:82)/The Prayers and Tears of Arthur Digby Sellers (17) - They have an EP up at their website for free that is well worth grabbing.

4. Mother Mary/Eels (3) - I bet it's not too long before we start hearing talk of a new Eels album.

5. The Slow Decay of Some Radio Afterglows/The Prayers and Tears of Arthur Digby Sellers (4) - Long song title; long band name; long song (7 minutes plus).

6. Paper Kitten Nightmare/Margot and the Nuclear So and So's (4) - Second song of the year with "Meow meow meow" as a lyric, along with "Where I'm Anymore" by Grandaddy.

7. Might/Archers of Loaf (6) - I still haven't picked up Eric Bachmann's solo disc from a few months ago - anyone have it?

8. Oceans/The Format (5) - Check out TJ's site for a scary promotional e-mail he got from this band.

9. Questions?/Dramarama (1) - Is Dramarama one of the most underrated bands of the last 20 years? Yes.

10. Fireflies/The Drams (6) - These guys have been touring with Drive-By Truckers - that's a show I'd go see.

Saturday, November 04, 2006


I've got plenty of music to listen to - albums I've barely had time to digest, all sorts of stuff on podcasts, lots of great music from earlier this year that I haven't played in a while, let alone all the great stuff from previous years. But is that enough? No. I'm listening to streams of Silversun Pickups (Oct. 27 at around 3 PM) and The Shins (yesterday at 1:20 or so) on KEXP and The Long Winters from the other day on NPR. There's also a Decemberists concert to get to, also from NPR. Now if I could only get paid for it...

Friday, November 03, 2006


Drove down to DeMotte tonight (about 25 miles away) to meet my wife and parents for dinner before an open mic at a local place. We ate at a Mexican place that makes great burritos (chicken and pork combo!) and it was good as usual, if a bit slow due to a large crowd. We were just finishing right before 7:00, so I ducked out early and went across the street to the open mic. Well, there was the opposite of a big crowd. The host was there by himself. We waited for a few minutes but no other performers came and the only potential audience members were supplied by me. So, we packed it in.

The good news is I finished a new song about 20 minutes before we left, the first one I've finished in a couple months and my 6th song overall (#5 has only been played once and won't really outside of a band setting). I did go to the open mic in Valpo last night for the first time in almost 2 months, which was nice. And now I have something new to play next week; I also have another song that just needs lyrics and should be done by Thursday.

What am I doing instead of performing? Having a beer and using up the rest of my current eMusic downloads while watching basketball on mute. Go Bulls!

Thursday, November 02, 2006


It's been a while since I mentioned books around here, so I thought I'd give an update. I have managed to get myself back on pace to read 40 books this year; the pace is actually a fast one since I still have 8 books left to go. The good news is that I hit September with 16 books left to go, so I know I can read 4 in a month. And it won't be the end of the world if I don't make it; I read 38 last year, so if I at least get to 39 I'll be happy. Anyway, here's what I've been reading the last two months...

25. Infoquake/David Louis Edelman - A different sort of SF novel, with an economy set up around Bio/logics (upgrades for the body, such as NiteFocus 49) and a possible revolutionary change in that business. The main character, Natch, is an ass but an interesting ass. I really liked the book and eagerly await the two sequels that are forthcoming.

26. The Book of Fate/Brad Meltzer - I picked this up because I read the first chapter in an issue of Justice League of America, the comic Meltzer is currently writing, and was intrigued. The book falls more in that John Grisham vein, though it's more concerned with power and the Presidency than the law. It was a page-turner but nothing that blew me away. Let's put it this way, I won't be picking up any of his other books (and his JLA is losing steam too but that's another post).

27. The Washington Story/Adam Langer - This contiunes the stories of many characters from Langer's debut, Crossing California. I really liked that book and this is more of the same. It is set in Chicago, so I recognize events from my childhood, and it deals with the college adventures of several characters. Art, sex, relationships, radicalism, loss, longing, and hope. And more, of course.

28. Fragile Things/Neil Gaiman - The new story and poetry collection from Gaiman, one of my favorite writers. As is the case with all collections, I liked some stories better than others but the overall quality is very high. I particularly enjoyed "A Study in Emerald," which involves both Lovecraft and Doyle, and "Sunbird," a story about an eating club with mythical aspects.

29. The World to Come/Dara Horn - This novel falls in the category of an "everything" novel for me, a book that concerns itself with multiple ideas and characters. It deals with Vietnam, the Soviet Union, art, stories, twins, relationships (both romantic and familial), theft, Jewish life, and more. It's very well-written and very very good.

30. Third Class Superhero/Charles Yu - This is a small story collection, the debut by Yu. The title story appealed to me the most, a look at a super-hero longing to join the big leagues. The stories are not the norm and have some math apsects to them as well. Yu reminds me of George Saunders in tone if not it content (though sometimes in content too). Solid.

31. The Ladies of Grace Adieu/Susanna Clarke - I loved Clarke's debut, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell. This is a set of stories set in the same milieu with some of the same characters popping up. Most of them deal with the intersection of Faerie and "the real world" or with magic or sometimes both. Written in unusual dialects or structures, the stories are very rewarding. I'd still start with the novel but this is well worth your time.

32. Stardust/Neil Gaiman - Yeah, I'd never read this before. But one of the stories in the Clarke collection shares a setting with this book (Wall, where you step through a gap in a stone wall and into Faerie) so I thought I'd finally read it. Now I can't believe I put it off. It's full of whimsy and wonder, action and humor, wonderful ideas. I highly recommend it and can't wait to see how the movie turns out (coming out in early 2007, I believe).

Wednesday, November 01, 2006


Outside of the cold tempartures for candy-hunting yesterday, the day was pretty much a treat. Sure, I could have done without the 45 minute break between classes but I can't blame the kindergarteners for not coming down to swim - they were in costume. Grant got compliments on his costume (Superman) and his fake black hair and filled his pumpkin to the brim with candy (then promptly rejected half of it, which isn't a bad thing). A good day overall.

Today has been a little different. The tip of a cotton swab fell off while I was cleaning my ear this morning. My attempts to get it out only lodged it in further. Jill was at work, of course, so I enlisted some of my co-workers to help (susbstitute wives, who are all married and therefore used to dealing with idiot men). Two of them couldn't see anything but after being in the pool I knew it was still in there - my ear was closing up and not immediately unclogging. After I was done for the day and my boss took a look, thinking she spotted it. I had brought some tweezers along in case that happened and she was able to successfully remove it. What a relief.

We've had a clogging kitchen sink drain the past few days, which periodically happens in our old house. Jill put some stuff down it to loosen things back up and then I heard her shout. The pipe was leaking under the sink, spraying nasty gunk all over. Turns out there was a crack. She went out to Menards and got some supplies and was able to fix it. Plus, the drain seems to be fine now.

Hmm, maybe the moral of this day is that the women in my life are awesome and I'm not so useful....or it was just a bad day made better by others. Either way, I'm hoping for a calmer tomorrow.

Sunday, October 29, 2006


Wherein the only recurring feature reaches double digits and no extra chatter is necessary...

1. White Wave/Portastatic (8)
2. Exodus Damage/John Vanderslice (2)
3. My Sweet Annette/Drive-By Truckers (2)
4. Tame/Pixies (2)
5. What Happened.../Grandaddy (5)
6. Alec Eiffel/Pixies (1)
7. Moral Centralia/Harvey Danger (23)
8. Black Gown/The Lemonheads (6)
9. Eterna (concerning the end of the world) (ps 30:9)/The Prayers and Tears of Arthur Digby Sellers (17)
10. Last Days of My Bitter Heart/Eels (6)

Tuesday, October 24, 2006


Got a couple goodies in the mail today - Justice League Unlimited Season 1 and Jeff Tweedy: Live in the Pacific Northwest - and both make me very happy. Grant and I have already started on the first one, even though we're still in the middle of three animated box sets already (Simpsons, Superman, and Batman). We watched the first two episodes, "Initiation" (which sets up the new concept of many heroes and features Green Arrow, a personal fave) and "For the Man Who Has Everything" (an adaptation of the classic Alan Moore story). The second one I will get to as soon as I can because...well, come on. I'm such a Tweedy fanboy it's not even funny. This all came courtesy of a preorder at Circuit City online (we had a credit) - it's so cool it actually showed up today!

Sunday, October 22, 2006


Number nine...number nine...number nine...

1. Bryte Side/Pernice Brothers (6) - Last played on Sept. 12

2. Neptune's Net/M. Ward (11) - Last played on Oct. 21 (yesterday!)

3. Marie Floating Over the Backyard/Eels (1) - Last played whenever I listened to Blinking Lights and Other Revelations on disc

4. The Bleeding Heart Show/The New Pornographers (1) - Last played whenever I listened to Twin Cinema on disc

5. El Otro Lado/Josh Rouse (6) - Last played on Oct. 8 (during Sunday Shuffle #7)

6. You Must Build A Fire/Crooked Fingers (3) - Last played on Aug. 19

7. [Untitled Track]/The Black Keys (7) - Last played on Aug. 2

8. These Are The Fables/The New Pornographers (4) - Last played on Sept. 28

9. Ballad of Big Nothing/Elliott Smith (12) - Last played on Aug. 21

10. Eterna (concerning the end of the world) (ps. 30:9)/The Prayers and Tears of Arthur Digby Sellers (16) - Last played on Oct. 7

Sunday, October 15, 2006


I'm doing this a bit later in the day than's 5:00 CDT. We've had a busy weekend with a wedding we attended in Indianapolis yesterday and spending time with my family (my brother came in for the weekend and my dad's birthday was the other day). I also wanted to finish the book I was reading (#29, leaving me 3 more to try and get to in October and it's already the 15th!) before getting to my regular (and almost only these days) feature. So, here's the music...

1. Killer Parties/The Hold Steady (10) - I've listened to Almost Killed Me a few times directly on the iPod, so the relatively low number here shouldn't throw you. Craig Finn was talking about Charlemagne from the get-go...

2. This Isn't Farmlife/The Essex Green (10) - Wow, I've gotten 2 songs to double digits right from the start. I burned a hardcopy of Cannibal Sea and have listened to it many times that way. It still remains one of the pleasant surprises of the year for me.

3. The Concept/Teenage Fanclub (1) - "She wears denim wherever she goes/ So she's going to get some records by the Status Quo/ Oh yeah." Ah, good stuff.

4. Ammunition for a Bolt-Action Heart/The Prayers and Tears of Arthur Digby Sellers (3) - From The Mother of Love Emulates the Shapes of Cynthia. Long titles rock!

5. Magnetic Heaven/Slobberbone (11) - A nice instrumental from Everything You Thought Was Right Was Wrong Today and my third double digit song only halfway through.

6. The Thrilling of Claire/The National (7) - This is from the bonus disc that came with the reissue of Alligator earlier this year. I just downloaded it since I already had the disc. And you know, I keep forgetting I have it. I shouldn't because this song is just as good as the stuff on the album.

7. Sooner or Later/Marah (5) - I guess it's the day for the albums with long titles to be represented; If You Didn't Laugh You'd Cry fits the bill here. I thought I'd heard a few months back that there might be a new one from them again this year but I haven't heard anything since, so I guess it will be next year.

8. Per Second Second/The Wrens (1) - The Meadowlands is another album I loaded in for the mix I made a few weeks back. This is probably the weakest song of a fantastic set of music.

9. Box Full of Letters/Wilco (4) - This is the song that introduced me to Wilco, that made me like Wilco (even though I didn't buy A.M. at the time; Being There was my first Wilco record). Thank you, WXRT (why do you suck so much now?). And yes, this shuffle almost ended without a Wilco tune - can you believe it?

10. Heavy Metal Drummer (demo)/Wilco (8) - Obviously not. It's fated! Fated!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006


Before I talk about my most recent round of eMusic downloads, I need to mention something I left off last time. I forgot to note I grabbed Elliott Smith's "Division Day" and "No Name #6," which were originally released as a single. Not my favorite of his but still well worth owning.

I also need to note that I upgraded my subscription this time around, as there was just so much new music coming out. I'm now paying $14.99 for 65 downloads, which is still a great bargain. I would have had to pay that much for only one of these in the store, so I'm very happy with the bargain. Here's what I grabbed...

Ben Kweller/Ben Kweller - Sure, Ben's lyrics can be a little goofy but then they can also be really sharp too. He's in fine form musically (as usual) with some more piano-based songs this time around. It's a more mature album maybe and that's not a bad thing at all.

Joseph Arthur/Nuclear Daydream - I got his previous album, Our Shadows Will Remain, for Christmas a few years back and upon first listen I thought I had made a huge mistake in asking for it. Turned out I was wrong. I didn't have any such problem with his new album. It's a bit more stripped down musically but still fairly dark in the lyrics. It all sounds good.

The Hold Steady/Boys and Girls in America - I'm planning on doing a more in-depth review of this at some point, so let's just say I like it and leave it at that for now.

Pernice Brothers/Live A Little - My anticipation for this album sent into a huge Pernice kick that I'm still not over. I'd like to talk about this one more too but I will say this - you need to get it. Seriously.

The Lemonheads/The Lemonheads - Yeah, it's just Evan Dando and some new recruits (including J. Mascis...and did you see Dinosaur Jr. is coming out with a new album next year?) but it still sounds all Lemonhead and why wouldn't it? Not that album of the year but I'm enjoying listening to it.

The Brokedown/The Dutchman's Gold - I pay attention to press releases from Merge Records and one such mentioned they had signed this band and would put out their full-length debut in January. Well, I thought it they were good enough for Merge they would probably be good enough for me so I grabbed their debut EP. And I was right. By the way, they've now changed their name to The Broken West thanks to another band threatening legal action or some such. I'm sure that other band is nowhere near as good.

The Decemberists/The Tain - How cool is it to have one remaining dowload and then discover that eMusic has this whole EP as one download? Pretty cool. 18 plus minutes of goodness.

Sunday, October 08, 2006


Let's see how many Wilco songs turn up today, shall we?

1. Smiley Faces/Gnarls Barkley (1) - Jill bought St. Elsewhere the other weekend and loaded it onto iTunes. But I like it too, so I'll count it under my least for today.

2. El Otro Lado/Josh Rouse (5) - The closing track from Subtitulo. Man, that album so early in the year that I tend to forget about it. I shouldn't, because it's good. I burned myself a copy too, so I've listened to it a lot more than seems to be indicated here.

3. Via Chicago/Wilco (5) - Well, that didn't take long. From Summerteeth. I just put the live version of this one on a mix for one of the high schoolers I work with.

4. Jersey Clowns/Josh Rouse (7) - Well, who knew it would be a Josh Rouse two-fer? This one's from Subtitulo as well. Hmm, looks like the shuffle is staying in the "S" section of the albums today.

5. Hang On/Teenage Fanclub (2) - Here's 305 seconds off of Four Thousand Seven Hundred and Sixty-Six Seconds. Wonder if they'll put out a new album next year...

6. Strahan Has Corralled the Freaks/Centro-Matic (14) - I was running a shuffle yesterday while watching all the baseball games (some days you don't need to hear Joe Morgan or Tim McCarver) and this popped up; now here it is again. Proof that shuffling works or doesn't work? Anyway, this is from Love You Just the Same.

7. Song for Dennis Brown/The Mountain Goats (4) - If I didn't need to work on digesting a dozen new albums (or more) recently, I would be playing Get Lonely all the time. So, I'm pretty high on The Mountain Goats right now. This is from last year's The Sunset Tree.

8. The Other Shoe/Eels (1) - I loaded Blinking Lights and Other Revelations onto iTunes back in January and have just listened to the songs as they came up in shuffles. Obviously, this one hadn't made it until today.

9. Comes A Time/Nada Surf (3) - I don't think I like The Weight Is A Gift quite as much as Let Go but it's still a good album. I think they're akin to Harvey Danger, having that big hit early on and then being forgotten about while turning out good music.

10. Black Gown/The Lemonheads (3) - This is the 2006 version of the group, from the new self-titled album. I just grabbed this from eMusic earlier this week and have only managed a couple listens so far.

So, only one Wilco track. And I actually had something come up that was in double digits. What'll happen next week?

Sunday, October 01, 2006


Big week.

First and foremost are this week's music releases. The Hold Steady. Pernice Brothers. The Decemberists. Beck. Hard to beat that for a new music day, isn't it?

Tuesday brings the season premiere of "Veronica Mars." I actually get to see episodes as they air this year! Wednesday has the season premiere of "Lost" and Friday brings "Battlestar Galactica" (Netflix was making me wait, so I went out and bought the 2 DVD sets for Season 2 and currently have 7 episodes left to watch - I will be caught up!). Plus, the baseball playoffs start this week. Even though my White Sox did not make it, I will watch as much as I can because I love the game.

I will attempt to finish book #28 on the year (Neil Gaiman's Fragile Things) and jump right into book #29 (no idea what that will be yet).

Tomorrow Grant and I have dentist appointments and he starts a drama class at our local community theater guild; Tuesday I have an appointment to talk about getting snipped (yep, we've made the decision). On Wednesday I have to stay a little bit extra at work to teach for a co-worker; another co-worker is in New Orleans on a mission trip all week, which means I'll have to be on top of things even more in the pool. Friday brings an open mic and I'd like to finish some songs and do some new material. And I'm working on Saturday morning again this week.

Big week. I'm looking forward to it.

Sans commentary today.

1. Looter's Follies/Destroyer (9)
2. Poor People/Marah (3)
3. Outtasite (Outta Mind)/Wilco (6)
4. Salesman at the Day of the Parade/Rogue Wave (4)
5. Muzzle of Bees (live)/Wilco (1)
6. August/John Vanderslice (2)
7. Sister Jack/Spoon (1)
8. Poor Places/Wilco (5)
9. Silver Plate Complaints/Centro-Matic (7)
10. Working Girls (Sunlight Shines)/Pernice Brothers (6)

Sunday, September 24, 2006


I loaded around 15 CDs onto iTunes this week so I could put together a mix for one of the kids I work with. I love exposing people to music they haven't heard before. So, we'll see if any of that ends up on today's ten...

1. Requiem/M.Ward (9) - A song from the brilliant Post-War. Once more I urge to get it if you have not done so. Seriously.

2. This Year/The Mountain Goats (4) - The lead track from last year's best-of mix. I like The Sunset Tree a lot but I've really been getting into the new one...which could very well end up in my top ten. You know, only three months until those decisions need to be made.

3. CRC 7173, Affectionately/John Vanderslice (1) - There's one of the new albums, Pixel Revolt. I've cooled off on my constant listening of it - too many other new albums to absorb. But it's still great. "It's so much better now..."

4. The Pledge/Brendan Benson (3) - I'll be loyal to you, Brendan. Please give us another solo album or even a new Raconteurs album in the near future, okay? From The Alternative To Love.

5. Land Locked Blues/Bright Eyes (4) - Hmm, a second from the best-of 2005 mix. He's supposed to have a new album out early in the 2007; this is from It's Wide Awake It's Morning.

6. Honest/The Long Winters (1) - Ah, here's another one and one of the highlights of the fantastic Putting The Days To Bed, which is also slated for my top ten of 2006.

7. How To Fight Loneliness/Wilco (2) - The only other time I listened to this song on iTunes was May 5th. That's been a while. Summerteeth; smile all the time and laugh at every joke.

8. Valerie/Crooked Fingers (2) - I still need to get a hold of Eric Bachmann's solo album, which came out last month. But there's nothing wrong with some of this band (or Archers of Loaf). Nothing at all. From Dignity and Shame.

9. Sad Eyes/Josh Rouse (7) - From those radio sessions that I've mentioned before. In fact, it looks like this came up a couple weeks ago on this feature...maybe not. Might have listened to it after I put up the post.

10. Don't Look Back/Teenage Fanclub (1) - And here's another freshly ripped song to close things out. It comes from Four Thousand Seven Hundred and Sixty-Six Seconds, a career retrospective they put out a couple years ago. I only have one of their proper albums, a situation I need to rectify. Great band.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

52.17 - 52.20

The long-simmering storyline of our heroes lost in space come to a forefront in the four most recent issues of 52. They are finally away from the planet and beginning their long trek home. Starfire lectures Animal Man about the dangers of "existential isolation trauma" but Buddy feels like the universe like him and that he'll be okay. That's a reference to his Grant Morrison-written solo series from the late 80s (available in three trades and essential reading!) and suspect Morrison is behind that section of the current series. Anyway, the two heroes and Adam Strange run into problems - Devilance has pursued them off-planet, though that danger is quickly replaced by the return of Lobo (an anti-hero who was very popular in the 90s; I could take him only in small doses). Things are different for the Main Man - he has found religion and is an Archbishop. He has also found the Emerald Eye, which leads to further complications.

Ralph Dibny (Elongated Man) returns in #18, after being contacted by Detective Chimp. Not only is Detective Chimp a member of Shadowpact but he and Ralph are also members of a heretofore unknown group called the Croatoans. One of that second group's members has died in mysterious cirumstances that also involved Dr. Fate's helmet. Ralph agress to help look into things but the helmet talks to him and he is possible he will become the new Dr. Fate?

Skeets (sidekick to the recently-deceased Booster Gold) turns up an ancestor of BG's at his funeral (remember Booster is from the future) and uses him to get back into Rip Hunter's lair. Skeets isn't playing fair, however, and sends Daniel Carter to his doom while uttering "He knows." Um, who knows? And what is Skeets playing at?

And those are just the main points. We also see more with Black Adam, Isis, The Question, and an even more messed-up Renee Montoya; the reemergence of Steel; the internal problems associated with being Luthor's personal super-heroes; Supernova versus Weather Wizard with an assist and awkward encounter with Wonder Girl; Supernova also breaking into the Batcave (along with a reference to events that took place in the Jamie Robinson-written "One Year Later" issues of Batman and Detective Comics; and clue to what to overall nature of 52 might be in the form of Red Tornado. Plus, solid art by Chris Batista (twice), Eddy Barrows, and Patrick Oliffe along with a host of inkers and the secret origins of Lobo, The Question, Animal Man, and Adam Strange.

Looking forward to more...

Yup, I'm being mocked. By Entertainment Weekly, no less. We received our new issue in the mail today and staring at me on the cover are three cast members of "Battlestar Galactica," promoting the cover story on the series and its upcoming third season premiere (for the record, those cast members are Mary McDonnell, Tricia Helfer, and James Callis). Now it's great that they're spotlighting the show but I can't read the article. Why not? I'm still working my way through the series via Netflix. In fact, I watched the penultimate episode of Season 1 this morning and now have an agonizing wait until I get the next disc in the mail (Monday...I hope). After that, I have 20 episodes of Season 2 to get through. Only then can I read the article without be tremendously spoiled as to the events in the series. Yes, I realize I should have watched this show before now. I think I was put off by the name originally and dismissed the critical buzz around it. I should know better. At least I've been looking at the DVD sets at Best Buy for quite a few months before this...that has to count for something, right? Those sets are going on my Christmas list - I've only been watching the eps and not bothering with commentaries or extras so I can make it through before the season premiere (Oct. 6 is coming ever closer). But I want my episodes now! I am thoroughly addicted to the intelligent science fiction TV show. The only shock in that is how long it took me to get to that point. And that I'm being mocked by EW.

I picked these up fairly early during the last period but just never got around to mentioning them. UNTIL NOW...

M.Ward/Post-War - I've mentioned this one in passing, at least. Really, it deserves a post all of its own because it is a fantastic album and everyone needs a copy. Might even be the most mighty of all the "albums of the year" I've heard this year.

Pernice Brothers/The World Won't End - I've been on a huge Pernice kick of late and I just had to pick up this one. At the time, it was my third of theirs (now I have 4, soon to be 5 when the new one comes on Oct. 3). Joe Pernice has an incredible melodic gift and his lyrics are good enough to listen to again and again.

Heartless Bastards/All This Time - My eMusic sub has definitely allowed me to be more adventurous - when each album is around $2.50 to $3.00, what can it hurt? That's not a lead-in to me saying I don't like this album because I think it's okay. But it's not as immediate as a lot of others. I like the music a lot, just not sure about the singer. I'll keep lending an ear, though.

Spoon/Loveways - Continuing my quest to get every Spoon song I can.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006


Guess who went back to work last week? Not only do I have my regular classes but I'm also in charge of all the preschoolers and kindergrateners who come to the Y. So we've had to assess their skills to try and put them on the right days and learn all of their names and so forth. Plus I'm training some new teachers and I was in the pool from Monday to Saturday last week. Quite a change from having a few weeks to myself. I'm not complaining, though. I really do like my job. It just gets in the way of my pop culture intake. :)

I'm still trying to stay on pace for 40 books on the year. I am currently reading #27 (The Washington Story by Adam Langer) and have to finish it and another one by next Saturday to try and stay on pace. I hope to do reviews of the last couple - Infoquake and The Book of Fate - but we'll see. I really liked the first of those and thought the other was solid; haven't read a thriller like that in quite a while. I still have my SF mags piled up too.

I finally got around to watching the "Battlestar Galactica" mini-series, which left me wondering why I'd waited so long to give it a try. Now I'm trying to catch up via Netflix before the third season starts on Oct. 6. I've watched the first 4 eps of Season One so far and have at least the next disc arriving today.

Yes, I've been watching new TV as well. "The Wire" has been great as usual. I always like "The Amazing Race." I had given up on "Survivor" but tried the first of the new season...and I'm once again done (plus, "My Name Is Earl" and "The Office" start this week). The first couple episodes of "The Simpsons" have been solid. "How I Met Your Mother" came back solidly. And I thought "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip" lived up to the hype. Looking forward to more of that one.

I've also been trying to ingest a ton of new music - Silversun Pickups, TV on the Radio, Black Keys, Bishop Allen, and some older ones by Pernice Brothers and The Long Winters. I'm toying with the idea of upgrading my eMusic sub too - new ones from Yo La Tengo and Ben Kweller and Joseph Arthur and The Lemonheads (next week!) and and and.

So yeah, I've been keeping myself busy. Almost done writing a new song too. And how are you?