Thursday, December 31, 2009

Best of the Decade Albums list

I swore that I would do this for a friend (even though as time went on it was quite clear that I am woefully uninformed on the subject matter of this list and absolutely unqualified to complete it).

But, here is my list of the best albums for 2000-2009 (as I see it). I am sorry that I did not go the extra mile and actually rank these in order from Best to 25th Best. I wrote these in the order that I selected them from my iTunes library. That was the best I could do. Please rank to your hearts content in the comments and tell me what an idiot I am for these choices and not for others.

1. Narrow Stairs (2008) by Death Cab for Cutie. I really, really like Death Cab and I really liked this album. Even though I found out that my favorite song on the album (I Will Possess Your Heart) is about a stalker. But hey, that's how I roll. And I also really like Grapevine Fires quite a bit.

2. Wincing the Night Away (2007) by The Shins. My favorite Shins album. Best songs on the album are Sea Legs and Red Rabbits. But I also quite like Australia. That was the song that sold the album for me.

3. Reveal (2008) by R.E.M. There are only three studio album to choose from during this decade and while I do like Accelerate, Reveal is by far the strongest choice. I struggle to find things to like about the middle album, Around the Sun. (I did go see that tour with Lynda in Cincinnati, so that helps.) The best song on the album is Saturn Return.

4. Kid A (2000) by Radiohead. No surprise that this is on the list and I expect it is on many people's list beyond mine. Read their takes for why it deserves to be. I came late to the Radiohead party but I'm a fan for sure. (I paid $10 for In Rainbows when it was available for download, so I've got that going for me, right?) Best song? I'll go with the obvious choice--Everything in its Right Place. (I think I owe some of my appreciation of that to some Chuck Klosterman reference in an essay that was probably about nuclear fission. But it's stil relevant.)

5. St. Elsewhere (2006) by Gnarls Barkley. I remember hearing everyone talk about Crazy and then I eventually listened to the album. I liked it pretty well. And I kept hearing that half of the group was also responsible for The Grey Album. I kept trying to find a way to download the Grey Album, but couldn't. And then eventually I got a copy of it from another friend at work. Unfortunately, I didn't like the end result as much as I wanted to. Best song on St. Elsewhere: A sort of a sheepish tossup between Gone Daddy Gone (good video and it was used in at least one episode of Chuck) and Necromancer (creepy subject but interesting song).

6. Guero (2005) by Beck. I want to talk about Odelay, but that doesn't fit in this decade. And so I'll pick Guero as the best offering Beck made during the last ten years. I do like the emphasis on Latin flavors. Best song: Black Tambourine. But I am also quite fond of Hell Yes.

7. Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots (2002) by The Flaming Lips. I always think of the Matrix when I hear this album because I first heard it when I was deep within my Matrix obsession awaiting the second and third films of the trilogy. This was also my introduction to the Lips as a group. I feel smarter knowing that they exist, but I probably don't appreciate what they mean sonically, etc, etc. Best song: the eponymous track. (I used it--or attempted to use it--in one of my work email movie invites.)

8. Vampire Weekend (2008) by Vampire Weekend. Typically, I got this album from a friend and I didn't sit down and absorb it right away. But I was told it was good and I copied it over to my iTunes library. And I find that when I listen to it, I really like it. I don't automatically recall it in my head as outstanding, but when I start to hear it, its unique sound combinations win me over.

9. Fearless (2008) by Taylor Swift. I know, I know . . . you're gonna let me finish . . . but this album is suprisingly good. And while I downloaded it primarily for my kids sake, I haven't regretted it at all.

10. Details (2002) by Frou Frou. I first heard of this group when I watched Garden State and then bought the movie soundtrack. Best song: Flicks.

11. A Rush of Blood to the Head (2002) by Coldplay. Maybe this is the decade of Coldplay--at least on mainstream radio and certainly if not for Radiohead and higher critical judgment. But did anyone else make as much with these years? And this was the album that I was introduced to them with. Best songs: Clocks and Politik.

12. From the Corner to the Block (2007) by Galactic. I got this album from another friend at work. It has a combination of hip hop, rap, jazz, and funk (I  think). I don't listen to it on a regular basis, but when I listen to it, it gets my feet moving. This is maybe one of two chances I've got to suggest an album to you that you haven't heard. If that is so, check this one out . . . and tell them I sent you.

13. Funplex (2007) by the B-52s. I admit that they have never been quite as good as they were in the 1980s when I first heard Rock Lobster. But, they are still as good as they've been in a while. And this album is simply fun to listen to.

14. The Mysterious Production of Eggs (2005) by Andrew Bird. Most of the music I have appreciated over the past ten years are due to the friends I've met since we moved to Ohio. I wouldn't know half of what I "know" without their recommendations, downloads, and burned copies. Andrew Bird is a prime example of this. This is my favorite album of his and my favorite song on this album is A Nervous Tic Motion of the Head to the Left.

15. Greetings from Michigan: The Great Lakes State (2003) by Sufjan Stevens. I sort of like his Christmas album best of all, but this is the one that game him the notariety and national press. I am still hoping (for entirely selfish reasons) that the next two states he profiles are Ohio and Georgia.

16. One Cello x 16: Natoma (2005) by Zoe Keating. I love this album because it is very cool to listen to, features a single celloist that loops her multiple recordings onto each other to create a very layered and intricate soundscape. I also love this because it points out one of the most important personal developments of my life during this past decade--the reliance upon podcasts. I first heard of Zoe Keating while listening to one of my favorite podcasts, Radiolab. Check out the podcast AND the album when you have the chance.

17. Hotel (2005) by Moby. I swiped this one from the local library and it was the best money I never spent on something. Moby is sometimes hot and cold with me, but I like this 2 disc set more than Play, the album where he based everything off of continuous Gospel hits. Best song: Lift Me Up.

18. Extraordinary Machine (2005) by Fiona Apple. As usual, what I love most about Apple's music are the beats and the rhythms. It always makes me want to be able to play the drums. Best song: the title track.

19. Plans (2005) by Death Cab for Cutie. I got this album because a.) it was by Death Cab, whom I really, really love and b.) it featured the song Brothers on a Hotel Bed, which was used as the theme song for the Vlogbrother's Brotherhood 2.0 YouTube project. When you listen to this song almost 340 times, you're gonna want to get the album. Best OTHER song on the album: I Will Follow You into the Dark.

20. Now Its Overhead (2001) by Now Its Overhead. I had never heard of this trio (?) until Lynda and I went to see R.E.M. in Cincinnati in 2004. NIO opened for them and I liked their set as much as R.E.M.s. I listened to this album MORE than I did R.E.M.'s Around the Sun that came out the same year as their second album--Fall Back Open. Best songs: Blackout Curtain.

21. Hopes and Fears (2004) by Keane. Call me a girl if you want, but this is a good album. And the best song on it is the one that all the girls love to sing along to--We Might as Well Be Strangers.

22. Welcome Interstate Managers (2003) by Fountains of Wayne. I had only known FoW for Jessi's Mom but this album showed me that they were more fun and more thoughtful. Best song: Valley Winter Song.

23. Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (2002) by Wilco. I'm quite sure that everyone will list this one. And I'm quite sure that I don't appreciate it enough. But it is a good album and it deserves to be on my list.

24. No! (2002) by They Might Be Giants. TMBG is good in any decade. But when they decided to unleash their creativity and unique sound in service of distressed parents everywhere with a children's album . . . that was genius. All kids should be listening to this instead of Elmo. Best songs: John Lee Supertaster and Where Do They Make Balloons?

25. Up (2002) by Peter Gabriel. I still haven't found a way to download my favorite albums of his (Shaking the Tree and The Passion). But this was a good one that I liked quite a bit--even the song about Barry Williams, of The Brady Bunch fame. Best song: I Grieve.

BONUS recommendations that you will ignore:

a. Lemon Drop . . . the Beat (2007) by Dumbledore. This decade saw the creation of Wizard Rock and I have heard a good amount of it in the last few years. This ep is one of my favorites. It took the fledgling genre of Wrock and twisted it into something known as Wiz Hop. (Stop your snickering!) Bona fide rap songs about Harry Potter characters and events as delivered by the celebrated Hogwarts Headmaster? Sign me up! Best song: U Down with OotP? and D Bowla. OTHER Wizard Rock recommendations . . . Penelope (2008) by The Hermione Crookshanks Experience and especially I Was a Teenage Werewolf (2007) by The Remus Lupins. I was a Remus Lupins fan before I was a Harry and the Potters fan. Choosing between the two was sort of like choosing between the Notorious B.I.G. and Tupak. The Remus Lupins was the California cool side of things, with family connections to the actual recording industry and (at first at least) a bit more musicality. HatP was the brothers team from Massachusetts that originated the genre and they deserve props for starting everything, for embracing time travel, and for improving musically over time.

b. Songs for Dustmites (2003) by Steve Burns. This is the (only?) album recorded by the guy that got famous for playing with felt and talking to an imaginary cartoon dog. But Steve left Blues Clues behind, got some help from the dudes in The Flaming Lips, and recorded some interesting songs about science and math. Best song: What I Do On Saturday.

Monday, December 28, 2009

What you didn't know about the 'Aughts

I know this is likely old news to most people who frequent the Internet (and I should consider myself one of them, except that this video was NOT old news to me). But, the content of this video is relevant to end-of-year type posts that I sometimes provide here on WWYG?! during this time in the planet's transit round the orbit.
And since I haven't found time (or much knowledge) to do any other sort of year-end lists, perhaps this will suffice?

The decade according to 9-year-olds from allison louie-garcia on Vimeo.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Vlogbrother Christmas facts

It's Christmas Day! And since I am busy keeping an eye on Hannah while Lynda puts toys together, I present to you these interesting Christmas-related facts from John and Hank Green--the Vlogbrothers.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Creatures are stirring

. . . especially in the kitchen.

Broadcasting from Cherry Log (note, two words), Georgia, direct from Nana's kitchen, it's ME making another white chocolate cheesecake. Everyone loves it and I think of Ruth every time I make it. So, spread the love and widen your belt.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Twitter traveling

Many other members of the digirati go Web silent during their holiday travels. But not this guy.

If you follow me on Twitter (\dtm1971) you see many travel posts. I'll also cross-post these on Facebook if you frequent there (www.\david.t.martin I think--or the picture of yours truly to the right.) And I may add ideas here on WWYG?! as timing allows.

So, stay informed as we go South. Happy Christmas to all.

-- Posted From My iPhone (so, I apologize in advance for any typos I missed)

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Parking Lot Cookie Disaster

It has been a whirlwind of a weekend and there is still a lot to do. As the Holiday Season embiggens, our attempts to remain cromulent towards it grow more difficult. And yet we continue to try all the more, because to not strive in the face of holiday difficulties is . . . well, what is it exactly? Cowardly? Humbuggish? Secular?

I guess I don't know what I should be doing. I can only relate what I have been doing.

Yesterday Lynda and I split up bright and early, taking parts of the family in different directions. Sarah and I headed to the church. We helped put up the Christmas trees, hang wreathes, futz with strands of tree lights, eat coffee cake, and sweep the floor. Lynda took Grace and Hannah to get more flu vaccines at the pediatrician's office in Hilliard.

After those chores were all done, we all got haircuts and bought groceries. And all that was done before noon. (So, take that Shirtless, who didn't even get out of bed before 12:30 yesterday.)

But there was still plenty more to do. Later that night we spent a few hours decorating Christmas cut-out cookies for Sunday's church pageant. And I made chocolate-covered pretzel rods that will serve as a gift to the kids' school teachers. By then it was past 8:00 and time for kids to be in bed.

Once we were done with that Lynda made some angels wings for Grace's role in the pageant. There was lots of tracing, cardboard cutting, gold spray-painting, and star attaching.

Then we went to bed.

This morning we got up and had pancakes, eggs, bacon, and drinks. (Because Lynda needs to make a big breakfast once a weekend to earn her good parenting badge.) Then we hurriedly got dressed for church. We realized it was raining, so we got umbrellas and loaded up the van. I noticed that Lynda also was gathering the carry box of Christmas cookies to take with us, and I knew that, since the pageant was at 3:30 . . . we didn't have to take them with us, but we were running late so I didn't press the point. (Bad mistake, as you will see.)

We drove through the rain (see how I'm starting to emphasize the rain?) and made it to church five minutes late. The parking lot was full because (as I'd soon learn) there was a baptism today and we had extra visitor; that and the usual increase of people during the Advent/Christmas season.

Because of the rain (!!) I had to drop everyone off at the door and then find a spot at the far end of the parking lot and then walk with an umbrella to the door. But remember that I was also trying to carry the unnecessary cookies in one hand while holding an umbrella (because of the rain, remember?) and did I mention that the cookies were in a carry box? One with a snap-on lid and featuring two plastic handles?

So, while juggling the umbrella--that I wouldn't have needed but for the rain--and the box with the plastic handles and clips, I was forced to rely on the notoriously weak handles and clips to transport the premature cookies. If it had not been raining, I would had cradled the carry box like a stack of wood, or like George Bailey totin' Mary Hatch's books home from school.

But I wasn't George Bailey, it was raining, I did rely on the plastic clips, and i had to walk extra far because of the crowd.

Twenty steps from the van, while avoiding a puddle, the clips failed and the carry box separated top from bottom. The cookies that the girls had painstakingly iced and sprinkled tumbled onto the wet asphalt, broken, inedible, and so very, very unnecessary and premature.

I paused to gather my awareness of what had just happened. I resisted the urge to curse the heavens while standing in a parking lot flanked on one side by an Episcopal church and one the other side by a Jewish synagogue. I reaisted the desire to keep in walking, leaving the cookies to dissolve back into flour, sugar, and butter. I stooped down and put the sodden cookies into the faulty box. Then I put the box in the van. Then I went into the church to find some perspective.

-- Posted From My iPhone (so, I apologize in advance for any typos I missed)

Monday, December 07, 2009

Stuff that could go on Twitter

Minus the character count limitations, these random musings would be perfect for my Twitter feed. But I'll ponder them here.

In no particular order:

1. This is the time of year when I eat a lot of clementines. (But only me, I'm sure.) I find it strangely satisfying to peel the fruit and then try to peel all of the additional white membrane that clings on the underside of the peel. It looks a bit like cull fat when it is peeled off the clementine segment in a largish piece.

2. Who got the color scheme first? The University of Southern California (at Los Angeles) or the United States Marine Corps? (And if the colors are not the same, I apologize for my color-blind eyes. I saw a USMC bumper sticker and it reminded me in color and composition--plus the M--to the USC logo.)

3. AISOT this morning . . . if I was single and somewhat aimless, I think I'd live in New York City just on the off chance that I could witness an Improv Anywhere mission. They sound and appear fun to experience--unless your these guys.

4. I've eaten more corn dogs this year than every other of my past years combined.

5. Grace's ongoing hearing problem has me concerned. But I'm really trying to be sensative to her and think about the problems she's experiencing. I do wonder if this is a source of several of the issues she and I have clashed over in past years. But the thing is, I don't know how far back the deficiency goes. In general, concerning and (as yet) not completely explained. Tracking . . .

6. Sure, everyone likes their pizza and their fried chicken hot on first serving. But . . . as leftovers, I have a fondness for cold. What about you the second time around?

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Another night, another video

Since my last post, which was heavily video-centric, was well received, why not tempt the fates again, keep playin' with what brought me, go back to the well, and other similar cliches and sayings?

So, tonight, I present Grace as she expounds on how Hannah reacts to Christmas. (How Grace knows this, since last Christmas Hannah was almost one-year-old and therefore not reacting to much of anything except warm formula . . . well, that is up to Grace to explain to you some other time. Personally, I think that Grace is suffering from what psychologists call transference.)

Friday, December 04, 2009

Hannah sings the ABCs . . . sort of.

I might apologize for relying on a video for today's post. I might take it to heart that I haven't done much thoughtful blogging lately and I might decide to take some time tonight when the kids are watching a movie to reflect on the past week, consider what is good and what needs improving in my life, try to formulate cogent opinions on the important topics of the day.

I might do these things.

But it is a Friday night and I've had a busy, illness-filled week of late nights, crying babies, fevers, single parenting and what not.

(And, really, it's the what not that wears you out the most.)

So, yeah . . . tonight it's only a video.

(But it's a cute one, right?)

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Here is a Team Edward I can support

If you don't know what I'm talking about, this link might help.

Gizmodo sez: "The Weasley's Magic Clock From Harry Potter Uses Twitter in Our World"

Much like when cell phones started coming out and everyone pointed to Star Trek communicators and said "It's all coming true! How awesome!"

Well, now I can do the same with this story that describes the (imagined) sorcery of Harry Potter, the (seemingly?) banality of Twitter and the (medieval) technology of the humble clock.

It's all coming true, I say. How awesome! Can apparition (or teleportation) be that far behind?

Yes, yes, it probably can.

Thanks to Gizmodo for the full text.

The Weasley's Magic Clock From Harry Potter Uses Twitter in Our World [Magic]