Wednesday, January 31, 2007


Jan. 4 - Front Porch Music - Woke Up; Holding Pattern
Jan. 11 - Front Porch Music - That's Okay; Decoder Ring
Jan. 18 - Front Porch Music - Perfectly Good Guitar (John Hiatt); 23 Across (debut)
Jan. 23 - Anneliesje's - Perfectly Good Guitar; 23 Across; Holding Pattern
Jan. 25 - Front Porch Music - 23 Across (Graham Smith on piano); Dear Prospective Employer (debut)

All songs are mine, unless otherwise noted

Last week brought the first big music release of the year - The Shins' Wincing the Night Away. In this day of music leaks, it seems I was one of the last people with any kind of regular presence online to hear it. Yes, the new album has been the topic of discussion on the music blogs for months. But you know what? I like waiting for a record to come out and then immersing myself in it. Sure, I've heard a couple tracks on KEXP and "Phantom Limb" has been around even longer online. In the end, though, I'm glad I didn't have that anticipation and subsequent listening spoiled for me.

On first listen, I wasn't quite sure to make of it...the sound was a different one for them, most notably in the hip hoppish beats of "Sealegs." I knew I liked it but that was about the only impression. By the time I listened to it for the third time I was in love with it. Love. And just yesterday I bought a new portable CD player (mine had stopped being effective in early December) so I could let it all wash over me as I went to sleep last night.

I love how the band kicks into a raveup at the end of "Sleeping Lessons." I love the distorted guitar and keyboard that run through "Spilt Needles." "Sealegs" has a great beat and develops perfectly. The plunky keyboards of "Red Rabbits" and the more traditional "Australia" and "Turn on Me." The music and melodies are superb.

As for what it all means, I'm not quite sure. It's a more somber album lyrically (and that's even reflected in the music). I don't know that you can read the lyrics of one particular song and lock down a meaning. I think James Mercer writes in a more imagistic way, more concerned with a mood than a grand statement. That's not to imply he doesn't have anything to say, because I think he does. And he's great with opening phrases - "Hurled to the center of the earth again" ("Red Rabbits"); "This goose is cooked these tongues are tied" ("Turn on Me"); "I've earned myself an impossible crime/ I have to paint myself a hole and fall inside" ("Spilt Needles) - just to name three.

This is my favorite album right now and I just want to play it over and over and over again. Live inside it. Needless to say, you should pick up a copy too.

Monday, January 29, 2007


My first book of the year was Love Is A Mix Tape by Rob Sheffield, who has written for many music mags (such as Rolling Stone). In it, he looks at the mix tapes he's made throughout his life and relates them to what was happening to him and what the music may have meant. It's funny and it's also sad (for a reason I don't want to spoil, though that spoiler is widely available). I think anyone who has a love for music will like this book, especially those who love making mixes (like me).

And speaking of mixes, I decided I would pull out some of the ones I've made over the past couple years to listen to it the car. It's been fun seeing where my head was at, what I was really listening to at a certain time. It's about time to put a new one together too..

Sunday, January 28, 2007


I got word this afternoon of a new member to the family - my cousin Heath and his wife Anne gave birth to their daughter Marena last night. Anne did it all without drugs and with bronchitis, which is just amazing. The baby is doing well and they are already home, on that path of parenthood. I know they're going to do a great job and I send them congratulations and tons of love. And now Grant is no longer the baby of the extended family...

The wind chill is -8, so why not?

1. Milkcrate Mosh/The Hold Steady (5) - This is a non-album track they had up on their MySpace for a while. Not their best song but they are always worth a listen.

2. I Don't Know Why/Ben Kweller (14) - This song was on my Best of 2006 mix before I switched formats and will probably find its way onto a mix in the near future.

3. Dead To Rights/The Twilight Singers (9) - Powder Burns is one of the most underrated albums of last year and I say that having done the same to it myself. But I was listening to it on Jill's iPod while shoveling snow last week and it's a really good album to power you through that task.

4. No One Here Knows Jane/Warren Zanes (6) - Boy, I've really ignored this album; this is the first time I've heard this song since early June! And it's not that I don't like either. That's one of the downsides to downloading so much each month - things get lost in the shuffle. But you can always rediscover an album at any time!

5. Punch And Judy/Elliott Smith (11) - I think we're supposed to get a Smith rarities album this year?

6. Linda Blair Was Born Innocent/The Mountain Goats (8) - I threw a reference to The Mountain Goats in "Dear Propsective Employer" to honor my current obsession with John Darnielle.

7. Andiamo/The Twilight Singers (5) - This track was released in advance of Powder Burns but isn't included on the album itself.

8. the most important words (ps 80:5)/The Prayers and Tears of Arthur Digby Sellers (16) - It takes almost half the length of the song to get all this typed out.

9. Shiftee/The Broken West (3) - I grabbed this album, I Can't Go On I'll Go On, with some of downloads earlier this week. Still sinking my teeth into it but I do like it.

10. Picky Bugger/Elbow (8) - Here's another album, Leaders of the Free World, that I haven't listened to a ton as a whole but have just enjoyed the songs in shuffle mode.

Stay warm!

Saturday, January 27, 2007


The weekends seem to be my time to catch up on all things computer-related. Not only is this the fourth blog post today (after 4 last Sunday (and yes, I realize that makes it hard to try and read...but it's just the way is is right now)) but I am also catching up on my KEXP listening. I get the playlists from John in the Morning and Cheryl Waters e-mailed to me and then I go through and find the songs I'm interested in hearing on the weekends. Some days I do get to listen to parts of their shows, though this week was not really one of's hard to listen to music when you're working on your own. This also helps to clear out my e-mail folder; I also try to respond to friends on the weekend as well.

The weekends are also where Grant and I tend to make some progress on our stack of DVDs. Last weekend we finished the third disc of The Simpsons Season 8, though we still need to go back and do those commentaries as well as some from the second disc. Today, though, we jumped back into The Batman Animated Series Volume 1 by watching the two-parter, "The Cat and the Claw." That story definitely shows off the strengths of the series with the perfect marriage of two subplots, real emotional development, and, of course, great action.

As for the other stack of DVDs I'm working progress at all this week. I still have 7 episodes left to go of 24 Season 2 and we (Jill and I) are still halfway through the second disc of The Office Season 2. And that's not to mention all the stuff I haven't even come close to looking at.

I did watch the new episode of "24" on TV this week, as well as the return of "Heroes." I thought it was a very good episode to come back with, except for the incomprehensible voiceover by Mohinder at the end - can we please get rid of those? And the terribly overblown introduction at the beginning? A simple "Previously On..." would suffice.

Last week's issue of Entertainment Weekly (got through that and the one from the week before this week) had a story on "Friday Night Lights" and the propsects that it may not survive to a second season. I hope it does. Football is such a small portion of the show and the rest is extremely well-done relationships and consequences of actions. And an extremely good-looking cast. I know I've talked about it before but I want to do my part (however small) at trying to build an audience.

"Knights of Prosperity" was another funny episode with lots of greatness from Rockefeller. The more I watch "30 Rock," the more I appreciate it; this week was a rerun (but new to me) featuring Alec Baldwin's character attempting to overcome stiffness in acting. Hilarious. And last Sunday's return of "Battlestar Galactica" was very welcome (as was the outcome of the football games).

I started reading my first book of the year this week as well and I hope to have it finished by the end of the day. I have around 80 pages left to go, so it's doable. You should find out what it is soon enough.

Yes, it's time to start another regular feature there is no guarantee I will stick with! But after my brief hiccup where I was in doubt of my love for comics again, I'm ready to talk about in on a regular basis. It's the most into comics I've been since 2000 and I'm really enjoying that fact.

Another issue of 52 did come out this week; I'm going to wait until after next week's issue (which will be #39) and do a big catchup post on the series as a whole, since it is a vaguely consistent feature I've been doing...well, I've written about every issue at least.

The second comic I read this week was Criminal #4. This is a new series from Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips, who last worked together on Sleeper from Wildstorm (I still need to buy/read the last collection of that series, which is criminal in its own right). The first arc is a heist story gone wrong told mostly from the point of view of Leo, who is deemed a "coward" by many in the business. This is the fourth of five parts and I don't want to say too much about it. I would recommend you look out for the upcoming trade of the series. Phillips is one of my favorite artists and Brubaker knows his way around these types of tales.

Next up was Checkmate #10, the third and final part of the "Pawn 502" story, where in a Checkmate operative tries to infiltrate the crime (and religious) organization, Kobra. The politics and espionage of the series are mixed with magic in this issue via the presence of Shadowpact (who also star in their own book). Again, I don't want to say much about the plot particulars but I will say that Greg Rucka knows how to do these kinds of stories. This is a series I had been debating giving up before this arc began; now I'm not going anywhere.

The Spirit #2 continues the reintroduction of the classic Will Eisner character. This revival is being overseen by Darwyn Cooke, who is easily one of the most talented artist working in the industry today. Cooke is writing and drawing the book, with inks by J. Bone (whom I was lucky to have drawn one of my stories). This issue features one of the original femme fatales, P'Gell. She seeks her revenge on Prince Farouk of Karifistan; the Spirit tries to both stop and protect her. Lots of fun and full of fantastic art.

Finally, I decided to pick up Supergirl and the Legion of Super-Heroes #26. Long-time readers of this blog may recall the Legion are my favorite group of super-heroes and responsible for the beginning of my love for comics. However, I have stayed away from this latest reboot of the franhcise for the last 2+ years; I weathered a previous reboot but had no heart to start all over again again. Well, the teaser at the end of Justice Society of America #1 gave me reason to believe some of "my" Legion might be making a comeback and I know an upcoming trade of the series ends with #25, so I thought this might be a good point to check it out. This is not the start of a new story and I was a bit lost and frustrated at first. Over the course of the issue, though, the story clicked with me and while I wasn't blown away I was sufficiently intrigued enough to pick up the next issue. So, tune in next month to see how the series sits with me after the next one.

And tune in again next week!

I've read three graphic novels so far this year - one collection from an ongoing series, an original related to that series, and an original standalone. Here are some thoughts...

First up was Fables: Wolves, which collects issues #48-51 of the ongoing series and includes a script for the extra-length #50. The first two issues comprised the title story of the collection and mainly featured Mowgli's attempts to track down Bigby Wolf, who had left the fable community behind when he was forever banned from their lands. Mowgli was given the assignment as a way of freeing Bagheera from captivity; if Bigby comes back and performs a missions, he will be allowed a chance at happiness. #50 deals with Bigby's mission into the Homelands and his subsequent wedding to Snow White. The final issue is a one-off featuring Cinderella on a diplomatic mission to the Cloud Kingdoms. While the price is a bit high (the script at the end bumps up the page count and while I suppose some people are excited by its inlcusion, it didn't do much for me), this collection shows off the high points of the series - action, intrigue, soap opera action, solid writing (by Bill Willingham) and art (by Mark Buckingham and Shawn McManus, among others), and just a cool premise.

Next I read Fables: 1001 Nights of Snowfall, the original graphic novel published towards the end of 2006. It is a collection of stories about many of the Fables cast, which take place before the beginning of the series. Snow White is held prisoner by a Sultan and due to be executed as well but she saves herself by telling stories. Within that framing device are the variety of tales - we learn about Bibgy, Frau Totenkinder, the Frog Prince, Reynard, King Cole, Colonel Thunderfoot, Rose Red, and Snow herself. These stories are drawn by a variety of artists, including rare sequential art from Fables cover artist James Jean. This would be a good introduction to the series itself and even though it's a hardcover, it is very reasonably priced.

Finally, I read Pride of Baghdad by Brian K. Vaughan and Niko Henrichon, an OGN telling the tale of 4 lions who were freed from a Baghdad zoo during the American attacks in the spring of 2003. Yes, it's a story about talking lions and giraffes and turtles and so on but it is not a funny animal story. Vaughan draws parallels between the lions' situation and the politics of the region, as well as universal issues like freedom. It is not a strict allegory either. It is a very affecting story with fantastic art. I highly recommend it.

I haven't done a strict "Year of 35" update in a while but I think I've mentioned the couple new songs I wrote since the last "official" entry. We may be in a new year but "The Year of 35" still has about 2 months to go.

I had a couple new songs in November - "Tuesday" and "Holding Pattern." Since then I've just been playing with chord changes and partial melodies and random lyrics but nothing was really coming together. The one thing about playing the same open mic every week with the same general crowd is that you really want to bring something new after you've been playing the same couple songs over and over again. So I decided I would just push forward and try to write some new stuff in the early part of January.

Last week I finally had a breakthrough and was able to finish I song that I'd had the beginning of for quite a while. It's my quietest song and it's a love song in the "you drive me crazy but I love you anyway" mode. It's called "23 Across."

I've also been playing a four chord driving strum pattern with changes for the last couple weeks without being able to come up with lyrics. I was sure it would be my next song written. But in the middle of playing it over and over again, I came up with a slower, poppier variation with most of the same chords. I wrote part of a first verse and the rest of it came out over a few days. I debuted "Dear Prospective Employer" this past Thursday night. I like it a lot.

So, that gives me 9 songs written so far (though one I won't play solo - it needs the bass and drums to be effective). I still have that driving one to put words to. I also have another song started; I borrowed Graham's capo the other day (I'd never tried one before) and came up with a chord pattern I liked and quickly wrote a first verse (and then went out and bought my own capo). I'm hoping to get into double digits soon. And I'm really enjoying the creative energy I have going.

A week from tonight I am playing a show with Graham; we are opening for another band that we are friends with. It will be my first real show since September and I'm looking forward to it. G and I started practicing the other night - we're going to do some of the old stuff (I sat down and played my keyboard part to his "Give Yourself" without any problems and I hadn't played it since September!) and well as the new (he's adding guitar to "Holding Pattern" and piano to "23 Across"; meanwhile, I'm adding piano to his "The Sigh Begins"). More practice tonight.

I've also decided to keep a performance log, which will continue throughout 2007. So, you can look for the January edition soon...

Monday, January 22, 2007


Big congratulations go out to Trevor and Nicole Jackson on the birth today of their son, Will. Word is that the entire family is doing well, which is great news. Looks like Will has a nice head of curly hair from the get-go and I'm sure he'll be listening to Spoon very soon. Please head on over to Creekside to express congrats and stay tuned for details and pictures and all of that good stuff. Coolest news of the day, without a doubt...

Sunday, January 21, 2007


The Chicago Bears have a chance to go to the Super Bowl today, 21 years after they went to (and won) their first. I was a freshman in high school back then and a long-suffering Bears fan (many years of Walter Payton being the old good thing about the team). It was an exciting time. Since then I had the joys of the Bulls winning 3 NBA championships in a row - twice - in the 90s and my beloved White Sox finally getting a World Series victory in 2005. The game against the New Orleans Saints is going to be a tough one and the weather could definitely play a factor - it's cold and snowy out there. I will be glued to the set come 2:00.

The Indianapolis Colts also play for a chance to go the Super Bowl today. They are my second favorite team in the NFL; I adopted them once they moved to Indy from Baltimore back in 1984. It's easy to root for both teams, since they reside in different conferences and have only played each other a number of times over the years. I always want the Bears to win but if the Colts had a better shot at the playoffs, I would be just fine with them winning those games. I have a lot of respect for Peyton Manning and Marvin Harrison and Tony Dungy and the rest of the Colts and I will be rooting hard for them to beat the New England Patriots starting at 5:30. And if both the Bears and Colts make it to the Super Bowl...well, I hope I have to deal with that.

And if that's not enough for one day, tonight is the return of "Battlestar Galactica!"

This week also is the first big music release day of the year, with new albums from The Shins, The Broken West, The Autumn Defense, and The Good, the Bad, & the Queen. I've been listening to Chutes Too Narrow quite a bit in preparation for Wincing the Night Away and I think I like it even more now than I did when it came out. Just a perfect pop album. The Broken West are releasing their debut full-length, I Can't Go On I'll Go On, on Merge. I picked up their EP The Dutchman's Gold from eMusic (listed under their original name, The Brokedown) a few months back and I've come to love it. The new release features only one track in common with the EP and has been getting great word of mouth around the music blog circuit. The new self-titled Autumn Defense album was originally listed for last week but seems to have been pushed back to this week; it's the side project of John Stirratt and Pat Sansone from Wilco and tends to feature sunny 70s-type pop. The Good, the Bad, & the Queen is the new sorta supergroup with Damon Albarn (Blur, Gorillaz), Paul Simonon (the Clash), the guitarist from the Verve, and production from Danger Mouse. I've heard a few tracks and will definitely pick it up.

And speaking of Wilco, word came out this week that the new album will be out May 15 and will be called Sky Blue Sky. Less than four months!

This week should also bring the 2007 Preview issue of Entertainment Weekly, always my favorite issue of the year. I read through the 2007 Preview issue of Wizard a few weeks ago, which filled me in on all the cool comics coming out...if only I could afford them all...or have the space to keep them.

I waited until after the first of the year to use my eMusic downloads this time around. I wanted to get through Christmas and see what new music I might end up with and also have time to process some of the previous downloads. I love being able to get all this music but sometimes it's hard to digest it all. Anyway, here's what I grabbed in the first few days of 2007...

Cold War Kids/Robbers & Cowards - I'd been digging this band when I heard them on KEXP, so I finally ordered their 2 EPs from earlier this year. While they were on route, I learned that they had a full-length coming that included almost all of the songs from those EPs plus 2 new ones. I was a bit annoyed. But I finally decided to grab this and gave the EPs to Graham. Now he's a fan as well and we're going to go see them in concert in March (Tokyo Police Club is playing too).

Canasta/We Were Set Up - This was Trevor's favorite album of 2006 over at Creekside, so I had to give it a shot. Of course, it's quite good. They do that nice indie rock epic sweep kinda thing as well as the more contained songs. Hmm, did that make any sense?

Tom Waits/Orphans: Brawlers - Can you believe I've never bought any Tom Waits before this? My brother is a huge fan and I've always liked Waits' stuff. So I grabbed just the first disc of his new compilation with plans to get the other 2 discs in subsequent months. Not every song is a winner but many of them are. Love that rasp.

The Mountain Goats/Tallahassee - I have become obsessed with John Darnielle and I have made it my mission to get as much Mountain Goats music as I can in 2007. Seriously, obsessed.

Superchunk/Here's to Shutting Up - I'm a big fan of Mac's other band, Portastatic, but I thought I'd give Superchunk a whirl. I like it, of course. Quite a bit. Another band I wish I'd paid attention to years ago...

Yes, I've missed my Sunday shuffle. And yes, there's not as much of my music loaded onto iTunes as there used to be but there are still plenty of artists and albums that I can get a variety. No guarantee that this will be back every week but for today it's here once again...

1. PCH One/Pernice Brothers (17) - One of the songs on my Top Ten 2006 mix

2. Palmcorder Yajna/The Mountain Goats (8) - I'm a little obsessed with John Darnielle these days

3. The Chinatown Bus/Bishop Allen (4) - Another song from Top Ten 2006

4. Meet Me in the City/The Black Keys (8) - I've only listened to the Chulahoma EP a couple times through but I love hearing the songs when they pop up in shuffle mode

5. Shot in the Arm/Jeff Tweedy (3) - A digital download for buying his 2006 DVD; it features Jeff screwing up the song for the first 2 minutes

6. The Weakest Part/Yo La Tengo (4) - You know, I just realized I didn't make it all the way through this album the last time I listened to it because it was time to go to bed. I never went back to finish either. Oops.

7. Endless Supply/Pernice Brothers (7) - I listened to a lot of Pernice Brothers the last 4 months or so of the year. Nothing wrong with that at all!

8. Instrumental 2/Wilco (6) - Yes, I purged most of my Wilco from iTunes but my demos from Yankee Hotel Foxtrot are still here...

9. Losin You/Amy Millan (5) - This is really one of the more underrated albums of 2006 and I still haven't listened to it enough

10. Rubies/Destroyer (6) - This is another of those albums I haven't listened to all the way through more than 2 or 3 times but I love hearing the tunes in shuffle

I've only managed 9 posts so far this year and I've been doing things a bit differently, so I thought I'd throw up this recap of the first 20 days...

I haven't read any books yet this year. In fact, I haven't even started one. I've still been focusing on catching up on my SF magazines, which I put off for months at the end of last year so I could try and get close to my goal of 40 books. Granted, this doesn't get me off to a very good start in trying to hit 40 books this year either but I like keeping up with the field (I still would like to be a part of it myself). So, I've read 22 stories so far. I've also read 6 single issues of comics (3 of 52 and one each of Fell, Justice Society of America, and Superman), one trade (Fables: Wolves), and one original hardcover graphic novel (Fables: 1001 Nights of Snowfall). Plus, issues of Newsweek and Entertainment Weekly.

I've seen one movie in the theater (Night at the Museum). I've watched three movies on DVD - Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, Talladega Nights, and Little Miss Sunshine. I've watched 17 episodes of 24 Season 2, bringing me up to 1 AM of that day in Jack Bauer's life. I've watched 8 episodes of The Office Season 2 as well as deleted scenes from those eps and 5 commentaries. And I've watched 7 episode of The Simpsons Season 8. Don't you just love DVDs?

I love TV too, of course. I've watched all the new episodes of "The Sports Reporters," "24," "How I Met Your Mother," "Friday Night Lights," "Knights of Prosperity," "My Name Is Earl," "The Office," "Scrubs," and "30 Rock." I've watched as much "NFL Live" as I could as well as all the NFL playoffs I could possibly see. Lots of "Sportscenter" and ESPN in general and parts of Bulls games and other NBA and NCAA games. And random shows here and there as well.

I've listened to a ton of music's impossible to keep track of. Sometimes I think it would be fun to keep track and have a record of my music-listening habits for a year. I tried at the start of this year but unless I force myself to write it all down there's no way to remember everything. And that's fine. If I love DVDs and TV, I love music even more.

I guess that's about it. All this listing can't continue for the whole year obviously; I couldn't even sustain it for 20 days. But the blog is always whatever I want it to be for how long I keep it up. So maybe there will be some more listing. Maybe it will revert back to occasional reviews. Who knows?

Thursday, January 11, 2007


I didn't get around to much of anything yesterday. The huge post and three-and-a-half hours straight in the water and errands and cooking and all of that took up most of my day. Still, I did manage to ingest some small helpings of pop culture.

Two new TV shows last night - "Friday Night Lights" and "Knights of Prosperity." The first gave us the least amount of football yet, as the cast was waiting around to find out if they'd back into the playoffs (in an ep titled "What to Do While You're Waiting"). Lots of relationship work between Matt Saracen and his father, Smash and Waverly, Tyra and her mother, and Lyla and Jason. I'm not sure who the music supervisor is for the show but they do a great job - last week's ep had Tom Petty, Spoon, and Sparklehorse and while I don't know specifics from last night the music was just as appealing. Plus, it's all wrapped up with Exlposions in the Sky.

The other show made me laugh just as much as the first episode last week, if not more. "Operation: Seduce Simone" was just that - they sent their virgin intern to occupy the women with all of Mick Jagger's security codes. The writing is sharp and the cast is great - both Gary and Rockafella threaten to steal the show each time. And I think Simone was played by the actress who played Michelle on "24."

Speaking of "24," I only managed one episode of Season 2 yesterday. That brings me to 9 PM on that day's timeline. They thought they had the bomb...but they didn't. And President Palmer learns something he already knew in his heart. Oh, and Kim Bauer makes another mistake.

I also read 52 #36, which features the death of one of my favorite characters, the continuing decline of another favorite, a return to form for another character (never one of my favorites), a huge clue in the mystery of Supernova, and really solid art from Jamal Igle and Keith Champagne in a story titled "How to Win A War in Space."

I listened to parts of albums by The Shins, The Mountain Goats, and The Autumn Defense and watched the usual sports-related stuff as well.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007


It's easy to get off track, isn't it? You get busy and then trying to catch up seems so daunting that you just give up for a while. Or at least that's what I've done over the course of the blog. Not the worst thing in the world, obviously, but it does become a pattern. That happened over this past weekend and then I started work on Monday and here we are at Wednesday morning already. I'll do my best to cover what I've been taking in the last few days...

I've been spending quite a bit of my time watching 24 Season 2. Last night I finished the 12th episode, getting me halfway through the series and up to 8:00 PM on the day when Jack has to stop a nuclear bomb from exploding in L.A. I'll have more to say once I finish the season, which I hope to get done before Season 6 starts on Sunday night.

As I mentioned the other night, Jill and I watched three more eps of The Office Season 2 - "The Fire," "Halloween" and "The Fight." The show is so funny and uncomfortable all at the same time. How great was the fight at Dwight's dojo between he and Michael?

Speaking of "The Office," I also saw the new ep from last week, "Back From Vacation." Steve Carell was just brilliant - his walk up the warehouse stairs when Jan wanted to talk to him through his reaction to what she tells I also watched the rest of the comedy Thursday night lineup on NBC: "Scrubs" ("My House"); "My Name Is Earl" ("Our 'Cops' Is On"); and, for the first time, "30 Rock" ("The Baby Show"). I'd been reading some good things about that last one...the jury is still out for me. I'll give it another try this week.

Grant and I also continued our viewing of The Simpsons Season 8 with "Homer's Phobia" and "The Brother From Another Series." The first one has John Waters guest-starring as a gay man whom Homer has a problem with and the second is the introduction of Sideshow Bob's brother Cecil, played by David Hyde Pierce. Good stuff.

I've also watched the newest "How I Met Your Mother" ("First Time in New York"), as well as plenty of sports-related shows and all the of the NFL playoffs I could catch and partss of Bulls games and the Florida/Ohio State game and some college basketball and so forth.

On Monday, I finished the Dec. 2006 issue of F&SF. It lead off with another Guth Bandar tale by Matthew Hughes, "Bye the Rules"; I really like Hughes and these stories about the collective unconscious are very well done and such a cool idea (the collective unconscious has become conscious is recent stories). We also got a new M. Rickert story, "The Christmas Witch." There was plenty to like but it's not one of my favorites of her work. "Dazzle the Pundit" by Scott Bradfield and "Damascus" by Daryl Gregory were solid - the former being a lighthearted tale of a talking dog who become a lecturer at a German university and the latter being a darker tale of women deliberately infecting others with a disease that allows them to see hallucinations they believe are manifestations of God. And it's not F&SF without a Robert Reed tale - this one ("Pills Forever") deals with the realities of how people have to live in order to have long, long lives. Not his best but he is always, always worth reading. I also skipped the Susanna Clarke story, since I just read it in her collection a few months ago.

Comics? Check. I read Fables: Wolves, the 8th trade collection of the Vertigo series (I'll probably go a bit into depth on this soon). I also read 52 #35 and Fell #6.

Here's the music I've been listening to: Band of Horses, Starlight Mints, What Made Milwaukee Famous, Pernice Brothers, My Morning Jacket, The Mountain Goats, Ben Kweller, Margot and the Nuclear So and So's, Nada Surf, Tapes 'n Tapes, Led Zeppelin, The Shins, and the 5 albums I've recently downloaded from eMusic (more on those very soon). And John in the Morning on KEXP.

I think I'm about caught up...

Friday, January 05, 2007


Instead of doing a nice big post I'm going to pop open a beer and continue watching deleted scenes and some commentaries from "The Office." It's pretty safe to say I'm obsessed. And if not that, I'll be watching "24." Christmas presents are great, aren't they?

Now playing: "The Latest Toughs" by Okkervil River

Thursday, January 04, 2007


That's the title of a new song played by my friend Adam Roney at open mic tonight. It's good. I'm getting to this post late because a bunch of us went out to a Mexican place after we all played our two songs (I did "Woke Up," which got a compliment from one of the owners, and "Holding Pattern"). So, you're not going to get much in the way of depth tonight.

I was going to get to an album review but that will have to wait. I was going to finish the trade I started last night but that will also have to wait. I'm in the middle of an episode of "24," though I did get through "9 AM - 10 AM" (I'm somewhere around 10:30 AM). I finally downloaded something from eMusic today - still have 53 tracks to go before next Thursday. Finished the Cash in the car and started some Pernice Brothers. Got some laundry done. Cooked dinner. Did the dishes. Now listening to the bonus tracks from Boys and Girls in America. Good night!

Wednesday, January 03, 2007


I finished the Dec. Asimov's today by reading two more stories. First up was "The Golden Record" by Ian Creasey, about a future where space travel is only done to find relics of the current space age...Voyager 2 in this case. There's a world government but the remnants of the U.S. want to start exploring the galaxy again; others want to hear the "golden record" that was placed on V2 because Carl Sagan supposedly hid a message about a revolutionary new technology he didn't think the world was ready for. I liked it quite a bit.

Then it was Swanwick time. Michael Swanwick is one of my favorite writers and he has been publishing few and far between lately. "Lord Weary's Empire" continues a sequence that started a while back; in fact, the last story was 2 years ago and I don't remember it so well (he has published a couple stories in a different setting since that one). Still, that didn't diminish my enjoyment of this one at all - half-fairy creatures, action, mystery, and subterranean mysteries - how can you go wrong? I believe this is from his upcoming novel, King Dragon, or at least related. Hope that comes out this year.

I'm going to read the Dec. F&SF before I get to my first book of the year. That will still leave me with two months worth of each magazine but closer to catching up to the current arrivals in my mailbox each month. That also gives me time to decide what that first book will be.

I watched 2 new comedies tonight on ABC, both titled "Pilot Episode" (original, I know). "The Knights of Prosperity" lived up to its billing, with Donal Logue as the down-on-his-luck lead who comes up with the idea of robbing Mick Jagger. He assembles a less-than-crack crew, the "Knights" of the title. My favorite bit had the group gaining an intern. This is going on my regular viewing schedule.

The other was the lesser "In Case of Emergency." It wasn't particularly funny, though it wasn't as bad as say, "The Class." I may give it another chance, if only for the hotness that is Kelly Hu.

I also caught 2 episodes of dramas. There was a new episode of "Friday Night Lights" tonight, "Nevermind." I really like the show. The acting works for me and the series is about so much more than football. I liked the focus on Matt Saracen, whose father came home from Iraq on leave...things didn't go quite how he hoped. Paralyzed former QB Jason Street continued to work through his feelings towards Lyla as well (isn't Minka Kelly a cutie?). And all praise to Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton as the coach and his wife.

I also watched the first episode of 24 Season 2 on DVD. Every time Jack Bauer thinks he's out, the threat of a nuclear bomb in Los Angeles pulls him back in! Can't wait to watch more...

Did the usual sports talk hour of "ATH" and "PTI" with "NFL Live" thrown in as well. Listened to the latest podcast from The Interface with The Slip; they sounded pretty good - anyone heard the album?

Got 2 new pop culture goodies today - the new Fables trade (which I may start before bed) and 24 Season 3 (Best Buy was selling all the seasons for $19.99 each!).

I started on the latest Johnny Cash in the car this morning and am currently listening to The Whigs' Give 'Em All a Big Fat Lip. That is all.

I got just a handful of CDs for Christmas and I bought 3 out of the 5 with cash I received; my eMusic subscription meant I got a lot more music than usual this past year. I've now listened to two of them two times each and I thought I'd share some quick thoughts.

My brother bought me the new Beatles album, Love, which was a perfect gift. I'd heard good things (and really, how could it not be good?) but hadn't gotten around to picking it up. The cool aspect of this new album is that the familiar songs are mashed up, with bits of several songs coming together to make something new but still 100% Beatles. This works really well - for example, the drumbeat from "The Word" forms the basis of "Drive My Car" with "What You're Doing" thrown in and what sounds like the guitar solo from "I'm Only Sleeping," or when "Being For the Benefit of Mr. Kite" crashes down into the riff of "I Want You (She's So Heavy)." Fun stuff. There's also a beautiful acoustic version of "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" with a newly-created string part by George Martin. Hearing great music in new ways and getting to play sonic detective while doing it - how cool is that?

I bought myself Band of Horses' Everything All the Time, which I'd been meaning to pick up ever since I heard a few songs on KEXP. The obvious touchstone here is My Morning Jacket, which isn't a bad thing. They have a nice ringing, jangling sound with soaring vocals like "The Great Salt Lake" and quieter more acoustic songs like "St. Augustine." I haven't even begun to parse the lyrics but I still am glad I picked it up. Looking forward to digging into it more too.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007


One of our goals this year is to get Grant to expand his horizons when it comes to movies, to move away from only seeing animated features. One of my goals is to get out to the movies more. Those two goals came together today when we saw "Night At the Museum." All three of us enjoyed the film quite a bit. It's got your big special effects and your smaller character moments and your humor. Plus, Dick Van Dyke and Mickey Rooney. A highly entertaining way to spend close to two hours.

Grant and I also got back to our DVD-watching; we're in the middle of 3 box sets and he got a lot more for Christmas. We had left off on disc 2 of The Simpsons Season 8, doing the commentaries. But we decided we should start off with an actual episode and moved to the disc 3 opener, "The Itchy & Scratchy & Poochie Show," a classic where Homer becomes the voice of a new addition to the venerable cartoon within the cartoon series. Cram it with walnuts, ugly! Oh, we also saw a new previws for The Simpsons movie and Grant was laughing hysterically - that is definitely on the summer movie schedule for the Steiners.

Jill and I started on The Office Season 2 tonight, knocking out the first 3 episodes - "The Dundies," "Sexual Harassment," and "Office Olympics." John Krasinski and Jenna Fischer just knock it out the park. I also watched the commentary for "Diversity Day" from Season 1.

Three more stories from Asimov's today as well..."Immunity" by Susan Forest, "Safe!" by Brian W. Aldiss, and "A Dying Fall" by Christopher Priest. All solid work but nothing I feel the need to write about.

I wrote this entry while listening to Spoon's Loveways and also listened to about two-thirds of Love, the new Beatles album (more on that soon). Add "NFL Live" and "Around the Horn" and "PTI" and some "Sportscenter" and the Bulls game and a little of the IU/OSU game and some general flipping and that was pretty much my day. Oh, and KEXP.

Question: Is this more boring than usual?

I listened to 2 more albums last night - Okkervil River's Black Sheep Boy and Sloan's One Chord to Another. We should get a new Okkervil River album in 2007 and Sloan's double album came out in Canada a couple months ago and will get a U.S. release next week (an eMusic grab, for sure).

I also read another story in the Dec. Asimov's - Robert Reed's "Plausible." It's the story of a Winter Solstice parade on a future planet, full of inventive creatures and good writing. A typical Reed story, really; I find him to be one of the best short story writers in any genre. I didn't quite get the ending, though. Happens.

Finally, I continued moving through The Office Season 1 DVD (Jill and I watched the last two eps of the season and the deleted scenes on New Year's Eve) by listening to both commentaries for the pilot episode. I only starting watching the show somewhere in the middle of Season 2, so all of this has been new to me. I absolutely love the interaction between Jim and Dwight...might be my favorite part of the show.

Monday, January 01, 2007


First album listened to: Camera Obscura/Let's Get Out of This Country
First DVD watched: Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest
First story read: "Yellow Card Man" by Paolo Bacigalupi (Asimov's; Dec. 2006)
First beer: Molson Canadian

Happy New Year!