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?

Sunday, September 17, 2006


It's an easy post to do...

1. I Turn My Camera On/Spoon (2) - Gimme Fiction would still be at the top of my 2005 list even if I did a new one. It's also my reading motto. I'm also working on a cover of "I Summon You."

2. Truth Lies Low/The Drams (8) - Second week in a row and the third straight for The Drams. iTunes must really like Jubilee Dive.

3. Angeles/Elliott Smith (8) - Elliott Smith is fantastic and Either/Or is quite possibly his best work. Unless I'm listening to another of his albums, that is. But yeah, I'd probably go with this one.

4. Instrumental #1/Wilco (5) - This comes from the demos for Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. Nice little piano and strings piece with some subtle drumming touches by Glenn Kotchke.

5. Cold Snap/Harvey Danger (4) - This is from the bonus disc included with the reissue of their fabulous Little By Little. Seriously, buy this album in whatever format. You won't be sorry.

6. I Want to Protect You/Eels (14) - An online single release from...earlier this year? I likes me some Eels.

7. Handshake Drugs/Wilco (6) - It's not a Sunday Shuffle without some Wilco. From A Ghost Is Born.

8. Outta Mind (Outta Sight)/Wilco (5) - Like I said, it's not a Sunday Shuffle without Wilco. I actually prefer the more rocking version from the first disc of Being There but it's still a good song.

9. I Can't Help You Anymore/Aimee Mann (2) - I 'm looking forward to her Christmas album, a genre I'm not usually a big fan of. One of the best songwriters of the last 20 years. This is from The Forgotten Arm.

10. I Was Thinking I Could Clean Up for Christmas/Aimee Mann (4) - Heh. Another one from The Forgotten Arm.

Sunday, September 10, 2006


Back by non-popular demand! The first installment was called "Shuffle Off" and then last week brought #2. And here's number #3 - whee!

1. 7:30/Pernice Brothers (5) - On a big Pernice Brothers kick lately, so it was cool for this to pop up first. From the recently-downloaded via eMusic The World Won't End.

2. Publish My Love/Rogue Wave (3) - Love this album, Descended Like Vultures. Haven't really played it much via iTunes.

3. Biggest Fan/Brendan Benson (4) - Another album (Alternative to Love) I like quite a bit but don't really play through iTunes. Brendan is currently playing with The Raconteurs.

4. Cars Can't Escape/Wilco (9) - This was a song they worked up for Yankee Hotel Foxtrot but it didn't make it onto the album, though you did see them working on it in "I Am Trying to Break Your Heart." Their outtakes are just as strong as the songs that made it.

5. Train Under Water/Bright Eyes (2) - See songs #2 and #3 above and apply to I'm Wide Awake It's Morning. Rinse and repeat.

6. The Animal World/Grandaddy (9) - Weird. I just listened to this on my CD player this morning. It's from their swan song, Just Like the Fambly Cat, released earlier this year.

7. Through With People/Portastatic (2) - And by rinse and repeat, I meant it would apply to this song as well (from Bright Ideas). New album from these guys in a month or so.

8. Truth Lies Low/The Drams (7) - I talked about this band last week; again, this is from their 2006 debut, Jubilee Dive.

9. Eyes on the Prize/M.Ward (6) - The only reason the play total isn't higher for this is that I'm trying not to listen to Post-War continually. Not easy to do.

10. Here Comes the Sun Again/M.Ward (1) - This kinda ties this post altogether, doesn't it? Obviously, this album (Transistor Radio) falls into what's become today's theme and it's cool to end with two tracks my one of my current obsessions.

Thursday, September 07, 2006


...of the following songs:

1. "Chinese Translation" by M. Ward - Just a subtle shift in lyrics results in a song that seems epic and sad in scope. Really, the whole of Post-War is just awesome. It's the current album I'm obsessed by and will most likely make its way to the top of my year end charts. You can stream the whole thing at Merge's website.

2. "Half Dead" by The Mountain Goats - A perfect melancholy little pop song. Lyrics work, yeah yeah, but the kicker is that little guitar riff and then the vibraphone that comes in about halfway through. Brilliance. I like Get Lonely as an album too.

3. "Somerville" by Pernice Brothers - This is a song off their upcoming Live a Little (due on Oct. 3 along with the new ones from The Hold Steady and The Decemberists). Talk about pop perfection and you're talking Pernice Brothers. Love the lyrics on this one "Gonna take a lover/Gonna take her back to Somerville/Don't care if she's pretty as we leave Suck City" and then that little guitar riff? Hell yeah. You can listen to this one and five more over at their website.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006


I only made it 20 minutes or so into this movie before I gave up. What did it for me? The old woman they almost ran over whispering in Donnie's ear. No thanks, had enough. Sorry, fans of the movie. Blargh.

That's probably going to do it for the backlog too. Baseball is getting into the thick of things and football season is about to start. So is the fall TV season. And we now have "Lost" Season 2 to watch and still have "Arrested Development" Season 2 and 3! I'd love to catch up on "The Office" somehow too. What can I say, I like TV. So, it looks like 3 movies was it. Tune in next summer to see if I watch another couple!

Yesterday I finished reading a new book - The Boy Detective Fails by Joe Meno. It's the story of Billy Argo, who was a celebrated child detective along with his sister Caroline and their friend Fenton. After Billy grew up and went away to college, though, his sister didn't do so well without him and eventually committed suicide. This sent Billy into a mental institution and his release into a sort of halfway house is really where we pick up the story. He has a hard time coping with the world, though he does become friends with a pair of siblings who live close, Effie and Gus Mumford. The latter doesn't talk, is smart, and is also the terror of the school as a third grader. Effie isn't much liked and someone has killed her rabbit by decapitation. Billy also has to deal with an archvillain living across the hall and always turning up on the bus; buildings disappearing; his job selling fake mustaches, wigs, and beards; a pickpocket he starts falling in love with; and the reason why his sister did what she did. The book is funny and sad and clever, maybe sometimes too much for its own good (though it's in a way I enjoy). It also includes a bonus story in code at the bottom of some pages, as well as a few chances to solve more within the main story. I liked it and I will check out more of Meno's work.

That was book #24 on the year, which still gives me 16 more to go if I still want to make my goal. I have to continue reading 4 books a month in order to reach that goal. I am currently 80 pages or so into the next one and am deciding what to read after that. I have a couple issues of Asimov's and F&SF on the shelves too - if I could finish my books before the month is up, I might have some time to read those. Ah well.

I spent most of last week watching "Veronica Mars" Season 2 on DVD. I had actually planned to do that the previous week but then a problem with disc 1 and the local Best Buy running out of copies quickly pushed things back. It was worth the wait.

The main mystery this season is a bus crash that kills a number of kids from Neptune High; Veronica was also supposed to have been on the bus. Other mysteries weave in and out of this storyline - Weevil starts losing control of the PCHers; Logan is dealing with murder accusations; the Aaron Echolls murder case (the big story through season 1) rolls towards conclusion. Then there's Veronica and Duncan's relationship, which takes an interesting turn. And Veronica and Wallace fall out for a bit as well, plus a new character named Jackie shakes things up for Wallace. The gorgeous Charisma Carpenter appears as a gold-digging stepmother to two characters and Alyson Hannigan reprises her role as Logan's sister Lily. Lots and lots happening. But in the end this series turns on the incredibly believable relationship between Veronica and her father (Keith Mars). Kristen Bell and Enrico Colatoni knock it out of the park every time. And yes, Bell is a cutie but she also plays smart and tough and vulnerable equally well.

I'm happy to be caught up with this series and look forward to watching new episodes as they air. "Veronica Mars" will be on after "Gilmore Girls" on Tuesday nights on the new CW in a few weeks. I know what I'm doing that night.

The other day I also caught the final episode of the first season of "Life on Mars," which aired on BBC America. It seems more likely that Sam Tyler is hallucinating his time in 1973 but I still hold out hope for some sort of time travel angle. All that aside, you still get a great period police show with Tyler bringing new techniques to the world of 1970s British police work The relationships are key here too, between Tyler and his superior DCI Hunt; Tyler and Annie, a policewoman; and even Tyler and Chris, a somewhat inept detective. I haven't heard anything about a second season but I hope we get one. There is also an American adaptation in the works but it's rare that you get something of the level of "The Office," if you know what I mean. Anyway, this show is good stuff.

Sunday, September 03, 2006


Why not?

1. Take A Walk/Spoon (7) - A short bouncy song from their fantastic album Girls Can Tell, which is my second favorite of theirs (right behind last year's Gimme Fiction).

2. Lit Up (Remix)/The National (6) - This comes off of the Alligator bonus disc that was packaged with a semi-reissue earlier this year (I got it off the web since I already had the album). This version isn't much different from the original but it's a good song.

3. In A Future Age/Wilco (6) - A sparser number from the multi-layered Summerteeth. Again, a good song but certainly not the strongest from the album. Have I mentioned yet that they're my favorite band?

4. Not About Love/Fiona Apple (10) - This one is also from the Jon Brion version of Extraordinary Machine. Really love the strings on this one.

5. The Hustle/Marah (5) - I put this album (If You Didn't Laugh, You'd Cry) in my top ten for last year. If I did it today, it wouldn't be there. But it's still an album full of good rock and roll and you can't beat that.

6. Get Him Back/Fiona Apple (7) - See above. And you know, this album would no longer be in my top ten from last year either...even the Jon Brion version.

7. Wonderous Life/The Drams (4) - Closing track to their debut album, Jubilee Dive. It has Brent Best dueting with himself via a processed second vocal. Not my thing usually but it works well enough, I guess.

8. Winter in the Hamptons/Josh Rouse (8) - Another track from that radio session he did in France. It's from last year's Nashville and is one of my faves from that album.

9. Four Hours in Washington/M. Ward (3) - This is from last year's great Transistor Radio. I particularly love the drums on this song.

10. Your Blood/Destroyer (6) - I got this album (Destroyer's Rubies) from eMusic earlier this year and obviously haven't listened to it a whole lot. I like the songs but I've generally preferred them coming up in shuffle mode than listening to the whole thing.