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.