Archive for December, 2006

Celebrity Deaths

Celebrity deaths always come in threes. They just do. So after the bam-bam of James Brown and Gerald Ford, I couldn’t help but ponder who would drop next. Mickey Rooney is typically my first guess.

But today we got our third death. Saddam Hussein! And what really makes this celebrity death interesting is that you can watch everything but the actual hanging, commercial free, on CNN.com!

Now, VH1, if you’re reading, your Celebreality production team should take note. What’s more real than death? Yesterday you canceled regularly scheduled programs on VH1 Classic just to show boring James Brown clips all day. What if you had a news team (I suppose the celebs would call them “paparazzi”) always at the ready for celebrity deaths? The show would mix the two things we are most obsessed with her in the good ol’ U S of A – stars and kicking the bucket! Of course, coming up with a name for the show will be difficult since “Celebrity Death Match” has already been used by your partner, MTV. But I’m sure you clever kids will think of something just as good as “Breaking Bonaduce”.

Music Faves – 2006 Edition

This year in music, particularly the indie scene, was interesting because there is no consensus. Just take a look at Metacritic‘s or Fimoculous. Some albums keep popping up: Tom Waits, The Holdy Steady, Bob Dylan, Joanna Newsom (among the uber indie snobs)…but none of these made my list. (P.S. Also be sure to check out NPR’s All Songs Considered lists.)

In my world, banjos, acoustic guitars, and beautiful voices fill my list of favorite albums. Pitchfork has yet to publish their list, so maybe some more of my list will be justified by them. Is that snobbish?

  1. Midlake – The Trials of Van Occupanther: It seems like this album was just a bit too under the radar for enough folks to hear it and therefore love it. The people I’ve talked to online about this album, and all the reviews I read are totally positive. So why the absence from so many big lists? It’s original, it’s beautiful, it’s haunting, it’s amusing…it’s just about perfect.
  2. Beirut – The Gulag Orkestar: Um hi, wasn’t this one of the most talked about indie albums of the year? Indeed it was, so why is it missing from 99% of the lists out there? Who’s doing anything more unique and well-played than Beirut right now? Nobody. Maybe it’s a novelty, but only time and Zak can tell.
  3. Yo la Tengo – I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass: Reviewed very highly, but absent from most lists. I don’t get it. This is quite possibly the best album by one of the best and oldest indie bands. They sound fresher and much more interesting than their last one, “Summer Sun” which collects a lot of dust on my shelf. There is so much on this album. So many songs, so many styles, so many voices. It’s the album to contend with, as it’s name dictates.
  4. The Beatles – Love: The last “new” Beatles album, “Let it Be… Naked” was everything it shouldn’t have been. Wrong songs. Wrong producers. Wrong second disc. This one did all those things correctly. I wish Apple would have explicitly called this a soundtrack, since that’s what it really is. And making that distinction is what makes this album a good thing. And it makes music lovers everywhere even more anxious for the Beatles catalog to be remastered.
  5. Tapes ‘n Tapes – The Loon: Representin’ a possible revival in the Minneapolis sound. Just good, fun, rock. We need more of that kind of stuff.
  6. Sean Lennon – Friendly Fire: Okay, so maybe if this wasn’t the son of John Lennon, I’d be less forgiving. But this album just keeps getting better to my ears. I saw him last week at First Ave, and he’s a great musician with tremendous stage presence. His voice has improved almost as much as his songwriting from “Into the Sun”. Plus he’s a big nerd, and that’s cool.
  7. Cat Power – The Greatest: Chan Marshall has got to be one of the best songwriters out there today. She just completely invents stuff and she totally has no idea how good she is. The Nashville sound has sort of been a theme of mine this year. It seems to be a theme for the big indie ladies as well…
  8. Jenny Lewis – Rabbit Fur Coat: Usually I like a songwriter because they say what I can’t say, but feel. I don’t “agree with” much of anything Lewis says on this album, but I’ve got a lot of respect for her abilities. The country sound is perfect — not kitsch, not bluesy — just country. Plus she covered the best Traveling Wilbury’s song, and one of George Harrison’s best post-Beatle songs, “Handle With Care”.
  9. His Name is Alive – Detrola: I typically don’t get into any sort of computer or synth-based music, but every once in a while I totally fall for something along those lines. This album is one of those times. So catchy. So groovy. So fun, yet kinda depressing.
  10. Art Brut – Bang Bang Rock & Roll: Ah, here’s the Brits. I’m not one for punk, but these guys are so funny and soooo British that I can’t help myself. “Modern art makes me want to rock out” is such a brilliant chorus.
  11. Band of Horses – Everything All the Time: At first I thought this album was really boring. But as I did with “Yankee Hotel Foxtrot”, I found its beauty. Nice, fuzzy guitars. Pacific Northwest feel. Yummy.
  12. Johnny Cash – Personal File: Maybe it’s my love of bootlegs and the forbidden part of music that makes me love this 2-disc album so much. The packaging is great and listening to it is like hearing the grandpa I never had when I was young. Ok, that was way too sappy.

So, where’s your list?


Time Person of the Year

CNN has received emails regarding who Time should pick for their “Peron of the Year”. Here’s some that really display the types of Americans that exist:

College educated, gets news from multiple sources:
Kevin Shelburne of Golden, Colorado

The American voter — Consistently discounted by D.C. hubris, the voter eventually comes around to punish and reward for past history. The real check and balance in our government.

Watches too much cable TV:
Cathy Buskirk of Summerville, South Carolina

Absolutely with no doubt, Steve Irwin should be named “Man of the Year.” He has given us direction so that we can follow his path toward conservation, not only for wildlife, but the entire planet. Steve was the “one” voice that has guided us to a better tomorrow for all. The Earth is not ours alone, we share it with a million animal species. It is time for us all to do our share in conservation. Steve showed us the way… now it’s our turn.

Only watches the nightly news and thinks they are informed:
Nadine Yanarella of Latrobe, Pennsylvania

I believe the “Person of the Year” award should be given to the servicemen and women who are fighting the war against terrorism in Iraq and Afghanistan. They are serving in a very unpopular war in the worst of conditions — but serving with honor and pride. They need to know and understand that their sacrifices matter to those of us who enjoy freedom and safety because of them.

Completely stubborn and uninformed, bordering on retarded:
Paul Muzichuk of Jacksonville, Florida

George W. Bush has met difficult challenges in his presidential career. Despite criticisms and negative opposition, he has stayed the course he had described and not flip-flopped. In many ways it has helped prove to the American people that if you have a goal you must continue until you attain it.

Another and Another One Bites the Dust

A couple nice quotes about Bolton stepping down from the U.N. (before being fired):

“The president appointed ambassador Bolton because he knew he would represent America’s values and would take head-on problems at the United Nations.”

– White House Spokeswoman

“As an American, here is what I say: The U.S. has made serious mistakes in recent years, and has angered the whole world. The best thing possible now is for us to (1) transfer power to a new party [done] (2) get rid of our secretary of defense [done] (3) get rid of our “ambassador” to the global community [now done] (4) start making good decisions to make the world a better place [it is not too late].”

Mike Murphy, Hong Kong (expat from U.S.)

The problem with the first quote is that the world is sick and tired of “American values.” For those just tuning in, that tends to mean “start wars for no good reason and ignore other big global problems.” I have no idea wht the “problems at the United Nations are”… I keep hearing conflicting opinions from around the world about how the U.N. is doing. But right now, the Bush administration can’t even solve America’s problems, how can we solve the U.N.’s problems?

The problem with the second quote? None. Way to go, Mr. Murphy.