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Showing posts from 2012

Life 2012

Some quick highlights from 2012...

I graduated from Purdue North Central with an English degree back in May. My wife and mother threw a party for me and it was a great weekend filled with family (including a surprise appearance from my cousin and his daughter) and friends. I wrote a long paper on The Wire to finish off that degree, to boot.

I became a runner, running my first ever 5K and first ever 5 mile race. What's more is that I enjoy running and finished off the year by running for 45 minutes straight this morning. I love that I can still surprise myself and make changes at 41.

I got to spend time with friends and family outside of Indiana, traveling to the lake in New York for the 4th of July, spending time in Ohio and seeing the White Sox lose in Detroit (and getting surprised by my brother in the process), and taking the annual trip to PA for Thanksgiving.

I watched my son leave middle school and begin his freshman year in high school, where he played the sousaphone in the…

Books 2012

I started 2012 with a goal to read 52 books in the year and I managed to meet that goal. I was probably a teenager the last time I read that much in a year, to be honest. It felt good to reach my goal and I really enjoyed the reading year. I read 35 books that came out this year, which is a pretty good total. I even read 9 books that weren't fiction, which is more than I've read in a year ever. Regardless of genre or publication date, here are the books I liked the most...

1. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn - A dark page-turner built on twist after twist that's wired into how the book is structured and the alternating viewpoints of a couple with a strained marriage. Disturbing and brilliant.

2. The Orphan Master's Son by Adam Johnson - A virtuoso novel set in North Korea about living under the rule of Kim Jong Il and the lengths people will go to in order to stay alive. Complex and crackling with creative energy.

3.Billy Lynn's Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain - This novel s…

Music 2012

At this point, I'm almost completely digital when it comes to music. Yes, I did buy a handful of CDs this year but I don't expect to anymore going forward. While I do still play CDs in the car, I will just as often plug in my iPhone and listen to a podcast or an album I have only in mp3 format. I was also able to listen to a wider variety of music this year thanks to Spotify. Here's what I liked the most...

1. Ben Kweller/Go Fly A Kite - This is an album I've seen on exactly no best-of lists but it's the album I listened to the most this year and with good reason - it's full of great power pop. It's the album I was hoping for after his self-titled album back in 2006 (Changing Horses, while good, didn't quite fulfill that need). It has 11 songs that are a ton of fun to sing along to and I sang along plenty.

2. The Shins/Port of Morrow - A lot of critics shrugged their shoulders at this album but I think it's more a case of group critical backlash tha…

Movies 2012

I saw 19 movies in the theater this year and a handful more on DVD/Blu-Ray. Here are the ones I enjoyed the most...

1. The Avengers - My expectations were high for this movie...not only had the movies leading up to it been quite good but Joss Whedon was at the helm and I'm a huge Joss Whedon fan. The movie delivered. It was the perfect super-hero on the screen movie, full of great action, character, and humor. And then there was the Hulk. So much fun.

2. Django Unchained - Speaking of high expectations, I always have them for a new Quentin Tarantino movie. Here again, my expectations were exceeded. No one puts a film together the way QT does - such a perfect marriage of visuals, soundtrack, and dialogue. Christoph Waltz was fantastic and Samuel Jackson chewed the scenery so perfectly. Leonardo DiCaprio was a perfect villain and Kerry Washington showed why Broomhilda was worth saving. And then there was Jamie Foxx, who was perfect in the title role. I loved this movie.

3. Wreck-It Ral…

Comics 2012

I started out the year buying single issues of comics but stopped after a couple months. In July, I bought an iPad and started reading single issue digitally, which I liked more than I thought I would. I also continued to read collections and original graphic novels like I usually do. Between all those ways of consuming comics, a few series were clearly my favorites...

1. Saga - Brian K. Vaughan is already responsible for one of my all-time favorite comics, Y: The Last Man, and with this series it looks like he is on his way again. He teams with Fiona Staples to build a SF universe full of magic and bounty hunters and sex planets and ghost babysitters and more that is completely grounded in the relationship between Marko and Alana, who are new parents and should not be together. The comic is gorgeously-drawn and wonderfully-written and I recommend it to everyone.

2. Hawkeye - This Matt Fraction comic with art by David Aja and Javier Pulido began this fall and has quickly become the be…

TV 2012

Most of the TV I watch is via the DVR or On Demand. I like the convenience of watching on my own schedule and being able to get through an hour-long show in 45 minutes or so is also pretty darn appealing. A side effect of consuming shows this way is that the DVR is often quite full (it's down to about 56% thanks to a week off of school) and, consequently, I tend to miss shows. I tried out Ben and Kate and The Mindy Project this fall but never followed through on recording or timely On Demand watching. I completely missed out on Elementary and Arrow in the fall - complete catching up will have to wait until some indeterminate future time.

Still, I did watch plenty this year and found a lot to like...

1. Breaking Bad - Yes, there were only 8 episodes this year (and only 8 more to go) but they were great episodes - daring, inventive, and dark with a hell of a plot twist as the show went on hiatus. The acting, writing, and directing continues to be outstanding. If you haven't watch…

Podcasts 2012

My desire to listen to podcasts greatly outweighed my consumption of them this year, which meant I often had a week's worth of podcasts that I hadn't listened to. Obviously, that's not a state I can sustain and I've recently winnowed what was built up, most likely losing some good interviews in the process. The following are the podcasts I did the best of keeping current with, which makes them my favorites...

1. NPR's All Songs Considered - Bob Boilen and Robin Hilton (and a host of others) offer a weekly look at new music and help to expand my musical horizons, even in genres I would typically not be interested in. The dynamic between the hosts is great and listening to it is just a great time.

2. iFanboy's Pick of the Week Podcast - Ron, Conor, and Josh (and sometimes Paul) gather each week to talk about the week's comics, answer e-mails and voice mails, and generally have a good time. I've learned enough about their tastes over the past couple years to…

Sunday Shuffle #312

You may have noticed there wasn't a Sunday Shuffle last week. Somehow the play count for the new Redd Kross album reset as I was listening to it and I thought, do I really want to keep this feature going? I almost stopped when I hit #300 and, in hindsight, I probably should have. I can't leave it on an odd number, however, so I will do one more today. That's not to say I'll never do this again but it will probably be intermittent at best. I do have an idea for a feature to replace it, about which I'll say more next week.

I still haven't listened to all the music I downloaded as Christmas presents, so there could be some first time plays. Let's see what pops up...

1. Axegrinder/Hoodoo Gurus (3) - last played on 8/11/11
2. A Hard Day's Night/The Beatles (4) - last played on 8/10/11
3. Work Me/The Black Keys (5) - last played on 3/18/12
4. Lie to Me/Tom Waits (3) - last played on 3/20/11
5. I'm Actual/The Format (4) - last played on 1/4/11
6. Make A Pl…

Sunday Shuffle #311

I finished up my year teaching swimming at the Y on Thursday and this upcoming week is the last one at school before Christmas break. I'm reading book #52 on the year right now and working my way through all the music I've picked up this year, so most of my posts from here to the end of the year will most likely be the year-end variety as well as Sunday Shuffles.
Enough about the schedule, let's get to some music...
1. Broken Bricks/The White Stripes (7) - last played on 8/13/11 2. Velvet Guitar/Alejandro Escovedo (6) - last played on 10/20/12 3. Waving Flags/British Sea Power (5) - last played on 3/18/12 4. Too Much Time/John Vanderslice (4) - last played on 8/28/11 5. Blister in the Sun/Violent Femmes (3) - last played on 4/11/12 6. Shady Lane/Pavement (9) - last played on 12/31/11 7. Old News/Dr. Dog (6) - last played on 11/4/12 8. The First Part/Superchunk (14) - last played on 7/1/12 9. Flaming Heart/M. Ward (3) - last played on 10/17/10 10. Slow Jabroni/Astro Coast (…

Sunday Shuffle #310

I'm at the point of the year where I need to listen to all the music I've bought so I can figure out my top ten list...and also the point where I'll be listening to a lot of Christmas music. Not a bad musical place to be in, really.

1. Blue Christmas/She & Him (4) - last played on 12/20/11
2. Faux Science/Frankel (3) - last played on 11/4/12
3. I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus/John Mellencamp (1) - had no idea this was here
4. Staring at the Board/Spoon (10) - last played on 6/2/12
5. Suicide Policeman/Yuck (12) - last played on 12/14/11
6. Lady On the Water/Blitzen Trapper (3) - last played on 7/21/11
7. Learned to Surf/Superchunk (11) - last played on 8/10/12
8. Water In Hell/Broken Social Scene (6) - last played on 3/4/12
9. Strangers Getting Stranger/Dawes (11) - last played on 5/13/12
10. Beautiful Day/U2 (4) - last played on 10/21/12

Sunday Shuffle #309

I hope to get back to some non-shuffle content this week, though tomorrow is quite busy. We'll see. Meanwhile, it is December, which means that any Christmas music that pops up will be included for the next few weeks. Let's see if any does...

1. Terrible Love/The National (19) - It's a terrible love and walking with spiders
2. Sick Priest Learns to Last Forever/Destroyer (4) - Make a mockery of the courts
3. Woods/The Rosebuds (8) - Ceramic lights, is this television
4. Some Boys/Death Cab For Cutie (12) - Some boys are filling, some boys are filling the hole
5. Dead Man's Will/Iron and Wine/Calexico (4) - Give this stone to my brother
6. I Didn't Come Here To Die/Spoon (4) - All you see is the weight around my neck
7. Bartomelo And The Buzzing Of Bees/Ted Leo & The Pharmacists (14) - I know I've been distant but I feel a change comin' on
8. For The Birds/Earlimart (5) - I watch over you from above
9. Goodbye Girl/Squeeze (2) - I met her in a pool room,…

Sunday Shuffle #307/308

For the second week in a row I made some mini music posts over on Tumblr; this time I talked about some Pavement. Please check them out if you're so inclined - one of the songs is my tribute to the Twinkie.

You'll note that this is a double issue; we'll be on the road next Sunday. So, without further ado, let's get to today's twenty...

1. Positive Jam/The Hold Steady (4) - last played on 8/8/12
2. You Can Stay With Me/Mary Weiss (4) - last played on 3/25/12
3. Blue Hawaii/Pavement (9) - last played on 10/21/12
4. God, Please Let Me Go Back/Josh Rouse (5) - last played on 4/15/12
5. We Can Work It Out/The Beatles (4) - last played on 12/12/10
6. You Want The Candy/The Raveonettes (4) - last played on 7/10/11
7. I Called Out Your Name/The Thermals (6) - last played on 5/31/12
8. 1,000 Wives/The Whigs (4) - last played on 3/4/12
9. Laffitte Don't Fail Me Now/Spoon (15) - last played on 11/4/12
10. Not Your Lover/Blitzen Trapper (3) - last played on 7/15/12
11. Her…

Sunday Shuffle #306

I know my day will end with the Bears and Texans tonight. Before that we will be shopping for a new refrigerator and I will be doing the usual cleaning and laundry chores. I'm also hoping to watch Quantum of Solace so I'll be ready to see Skyfall next weekend. What does your day look like?
1. Black Hole/The Rosebuds (6) - last played on 10/23/11 2. The Watchmen/Deep Sea Diver (9) - last played on 11/1/12 3. Keep On Thinkin'/Sloan (9) - last played on 6/8/12 4. The Rabbit, The Bat & The Reindeer/Dr. Dog (5) - last played on 6/24/12 5. Finish Your Collapse And Stay For Breakfast/Broken Social Scene (4) - last played on 8/4/12 6. Big Difference/Tokyo Police Club (13) - last played on 3/25/12 7. Hotel Illness/The Black Crowes (6) - last played on 7/1/12 8. Lord I've Been Changed/Tom Waits (2) - last played on 11/20/11 9. Love Won't Leave You A Song/Reigning Sound (4) - last played on 10/21/12 10. Daughters Of Sorrow/The New Pornographers (13) - last played on 4/15/…

Saturday Shorts

My son and I have made the decision to see a late show of Wreck-It Ralph in a little while (it'll be his second time seeing it and my first), so I thought I would kill some time and mention a few things...


I decided to do a little more with my Tumblr and made some small posts about songs I somehow missed. The nice thing about Tumblr is that I was able to post the songs as well (or links to them, anyway). They popped up on my Facebook timeline and Twitter feed as I posted them but here are links to all five...

Nina Simone's "I Put A Spell On You"
Grandaddy's "Jed the Humanoid"
Hüsker Dü's "Makes No Sense At All"
Darkness Falls' "Timeline"
Ty Segall's "Thank God for the Sinners"


Today I finished reading One of Our Thursdays Is Missing by Jasper Fforde, which was the 47th book I've read this year. I started keeping track of how many books I read every year back in 2001 and 47 is the most I…

Overdue October Update

Time for another patented (not really) catch-up post...


While I'm always excited when one of my favorite creators puts out something new, I do admit to an undercurrent of trepidation. Why? I wonder what I will think of them if the new isn't as good as the old that I love. Like I said, it's only an undercurrent and I mostly can't wait to digest the new. Here are some recent examples...

Crackpot Palace by Jeffrey Ford - This is Ford's fourth story collection and I had only read three of the stories prior to its release (all from anthologies; no stories here were published in F&SF, which is where I first discovered his work), so I was ready to dive in. I was not disappointed. There's love and optimism in the face of a repetitive day in "Polka Dots and Moobeams"; the knotty issue of faith in "Relic"; the classic fantasy gone awry of "The Coral Heart"; the brilliant strangeness of "The Double of My Double Is Not My…

Sunday Shuffle #305

How about that Bears D today?

1. Here/Pavement (4) - last played on 1/11/12
2. Nice Fox/The Rosebuds (6) - last played on 7/20/11
3. Newport News/Pernice Brothers (14) - last played on 8/10/11
4. All My Banks/The Whigs (5) - last played on 8/12/12
5. Cruel/St. Vincent (11) - last played on 12/28/11
6. Faux Science/Frankel (2) - last played on 6/26/10
7. Ambuscade/The Broken West (9) - last played on 5/18/12
8. Just Listen/Two Hours Traffic (2) - last played on 6/26/10
9. (Antichrist Television Blues)/Arcade Fire (7) - last played on 4/1/12
10. Return To Hot Chicken/Yo La Tengo (2) - last played on 6/11/11

Spider-Man Saturday

While I've been a fan of Spider-Man ever since I was a little kid and watched his adventures on The Electric Company, I've never managed to read Amazing Spider-Man on a regular basis, though I did read Ultimate Spider-Man for a while when it first came out. Earlier this year I grabbed the hardcover collecting the "Spider-Island" storyline but haven't gotten around to it yet. Now that I'm reading comics on my iPad via Comixology I thought I would go back to the start of Dan Slott's stint as the main writer on the title and catch up on the last couple of years.

#648 ushers in the Slott era, which is called "Big Time" on the cover (a moniker that extends for quite a few issues as well), and also brings Humberto Ramos on pencils. This issue does a great job cluing new readers in on what Spidey has been up to - he's part of the Avengers and dating someone new (Carlie) - as well as what is happening in his world - for instance, J. Jonah Jameson is…

Sunday Shuffle #304

This shuffle is brought to you by the magic of falling back...
1. Northern Lights/The Bowerbirds (6) - I don't need from you a waterfall of careless praise 2. Uncovering The Old/Dr. Dog (5) - Turn it down, start it over 3. Bright Pink Bookmark/Frightened Rabbit (3) - [Instrumental] 4. If It Feels Good Do It/Sloan (3) - I can't invest my time 5. When We Were Alive/The Thermals (7) - We closed our minds, we shut our traps 6. In The Hearts Of Men/First Aid Kit (7) - In the hearts of men, in the arms of mothers 7. As Long As You Are Near Me/The Smithereens (9) - As long as you are near me I can see clearly 8. Speedbumps/Luna (3) - We were brown and we were down 9. Talking in Code/Margot & The Nuclear So & So's (3) - I gotta go and you're talking in code 10. We're An American Band/Yo La Tengo (2) - Driving in the South, the motor's on fire

Sunday Shuffle #303

Only four days of work this week, as fall break is fast approaching. I am looking forward to it. I'm also looking forward to seeing what today's ten will be...
1. Waiting On The Stairs/Pela (4) - last played on 10/14/12 2. Painter in Your Pocket/Destroyer (5) - last played on 4/29/12 3. Gone Daddy Gone/Violent Femmes (2) - last played on 8/26/12 4. Just a Star/Canasta (2) - last played on 7/11/10 5. Try Again/Big Star (11) - last played on 8/16/12 6. Vampires in Blue Dresses/Margot & The Nuclear So & So's (2) - last played on 6/6/10 7. Red Right Ankle/The Decemberists (5) - last played on 2/2/12 8. Things I Like To Do/Ben Kweller (8) - last played on 8/31/12 9. For The Birds/Earlimart (4) - last played on 8/7/11 10. To Hell & Back Again/Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan (11) - last played on 7/16/11

Sunday Shuffle #302

I watched all 12 innings of the ALCS last night and was able to get quite a bit of Telegraph Avenue read during commercials, enough so that I can finish it today. Thinking about going for a run before the rain comes in this morning too. So, let's get to today's ten...

1. La Costa Brava/Ted Leo & Pharmacists (4) - last played on 7/11/12
2. By My Car/My Morning Jacket (4) - last played on 8/13/11
3. Grace/U2 (3) - last played on 3/25/12
4. Dignity And Shame/Crooked Fingers (6) - last played on 7/8/11
5. Waves/The Twilight Singers (8) - last played on 9/16/12
6. Last Train/Mavis Staples (6) - last played on 5/8/11
7. Almsgiver/Glossary (3) - last played on 3/4/12
8. Anita/Clem Snide (15) - last played on 3/21/12
9. Susie Q/Creedence Clearwater Revival (4) - last played on 5/7/12
10. I Want to Love You in My Room/Irving (3) - last played on 1/22/12

Sunday Shuffle #301

I'd meant to get one or two other posts up this week but it obviously didn't happen. Maybe this week...

1. Little Caney/Glossary (3) - last played on 7/6/11
2. Do It Better/Imperial Teen (5) - last played on 10/23/11
3. How Long/Charles Bradley (9) - last played on 9/6/12
4. Night Falls/Cracker (3) - last played on 3/27/11
5. Sweetheart/M. Ward (10) - last played on 10/3/12
6. Empty Room/Arcade Fire (16) - last played on 9/11/12
7. Golden Dunes/The Budos Band (9) - last played on 8/5/12
8. Under the Westway/Blur (6) - last played on 9/18/12
9. Chips and Dip/Spoon (5) - last played on 7/8/11
10. A Sentence Of Sorts In Kongsvinger/Of Montreal (3) - last played on 8/10/11

Recommended Reading: Internet Edition

We went to see Looper last night and while I liked it, I'm not quite ready to write about it yet. The good news is that there is a loooong article about the movie by Film Crit Hulk, who is one of my favorite internet presences. He talks not only about the movie but all sorts of issues in the film industry as well as about and to the people who made the movie. It is well worth reading; you can find it here.

I made the mistake of not recording the Louie season finale at its regular time the other night so as to have TV flexibility. While that should not have been a problem, the subsequent re-airs were not quite at the times FX promised and the DVR didn't get the whole show. So far, it's not on demand yet either. Regardless, Todd VanDerWerff wrote a smart "For Our Consideration" piece a few days ago about the revolutionary the show is; read it here.

Finally, I mentioned in a recent post that I'd started watching Cheers on Netflix a few weeks ago. It turns out th…

Sunday Shuffle #300

I can't believe I've done this 300 times stretching back over six years. I've given thought to changing things up a bit but I don't know that I could - it's such an ingrained part of my Sunday morning. So, we'll see what the future brings. Before I get to today's ten, I want to look back at the history of Sunday Shuffle...

#1 - Aug. 27, 2006
#50 - Aug. 19, 2007
#100 - July 27, 2008
#150 - Sept. 9, 2009
#200 - Oct. 17, 2010
#250 - Oct. 16, 2011

Thanks to everyone who takes a look at what I listen to every Sunday morning!

1. How Far We've Come/Dawes (11) - Stars that shine away from me
2. Wire/U2 (2) - Innocent and in a sense I am
3. Electrical Storm/Joseph Arthur (2) - How do you live
4. Sad, Sad Song/M. Ward (3) - Oh, I went to the doctor
5. Bang Bang Rock & Roll/Art Brut (7) - Bang bang rock and roll
6. Funtimes in Babylon/Father John Misty (7) - Fun times in Babylon, that's what I'm counting on
7. Fat/Archers of Loaf (9) - What do you fuck…

Late September Status Report

My pop culture consumption has slowed considerably over the past few weeks, what with school in full swing and swimming lessons running once again plus football games (my son is in the marching band this year) and the Popcorn Festival. Obviously, I haven't been talking about what I've managed to consume so I thought I'd do some quick hits here...


I finally bought a copy of the 4th volume of Jonathan Hickman's Fantastic Four run, which is titled "Three" because one of the FF dies within. Now this is a story I've known the outcome of for quite a while but that didn't change how much I enjoyed these issues. Hickman's character work is strong, not just with the FF but others who are pulled into the story, from the arrogance and confident flirting of Namor to the enigmatic Galactus and the fearful but dangerous Doom. The issue where Ben Grimm takes the potion the kids of the Future Foundation created to help him return to human form was fun…

Sunday Shuffle #299

I plan on doing another post today, so let's just jump into today's ten...

1. December/The Lemonheads (6) - last played on 8/18/12
2. Choose Again/Bishop Allen (3) - last played on 7/19/11
3. Pristine/Le Switch (7) - last played on 8/12/12
4. Only Son of the Ladiesman/Father John Misty (7) - last played on 8/21/12
5. Elsinore/The Essex Green (3) - last played on 6/5/11
6. No Children/The Mountain Goats (3) - last played on 9/18/12
7. Big Fan of the Pigpen/Guided By Voices (7) - last played on 7/31/12
8. Never Quite Free/The Mountain Goats (10) - last played on 9/20/12
9. Run For Your Life/The Beatles (2) - last played on 7/10/11
10. Chester The Molester/Sloan (11) - last played on 10/24/11

Sunday Shuffle #298

I've got quite a few chores to get to before I can sit around and watch football and the White Sox this afternoon, so I'm going to dive right into today's ten...

1. Delivering Maybes/Sloan (8) - last played on 7/30/12
2. Liza's Earworm/Tom Adamson (9) - last played on 4/15/12
3. Something for You/Pernice Brothers (15) - last played on 8/25/12
4. On the Bubble/The Broken West (7) - last played on 5/27/12
5. Firenze/Canasta (4) - last played on 10/2/11
6. Trap Doors/Broken Bells (8) - last played on 3/19/12
7. Hey Jude/The Beatles (4) - last played on 5/27/12
8. Your Belgian Things/The Mountain Goats (2) - last played on 8/13/11
9. Somerville/Pernice Brothers (9) - last played on 11/28/11
10. Clear Eye Clouded Mind/Nada Surf (13) - last played on 8/4/12

Sunday Shuffle #297

It's been a busy week even with the holiday on Monday. Yesterday I ran a 5 mile race for the first time (it was only my second race ever) and my son marched in the Popcorn Parade. We've had company for the last couple of days as well. This week I start teaching swimming lessons again in addition to being at the school every day. Today, however? It's the first Sunday of the NFL season and you can bet I will be watching the Bears and Colts. For now, let's get to today's ten...

1. With Strangers/Little Joy (3) - last played on 7/31/11
2. Sunny/Rhett Miller (7) - last played on 6/28/11
3. Jet Stream/Brendan Benson (3) - last played on 8/26/12
4. Honest James/Thurston Moore (3) - last played on 9/30/11
5. Lost Without You/Rhett Miller (6) - last played on 8/30/12
6. Angels/Black Mountain (4) - last played on 5/6/12
7. Hidden Shame/Elvis Costello (2) - last played on 11/16/11
8. Dark as Days/Army Navy (6) - last played on 4/15/12
9. Back & Forth/Foo Fighters (12) - l…

Sunday Shuffle #296

Might be a two post day but for now let's get to today's top ten...

1. Walkin Blue/Sonic Youth (4) - Hey now, what's the news I heard
2. What New York Used To Be/The Kills (5) - Come on come on drama
3. Like Egypt Was/Michael Penn (3) - I shook upon a bridge
4. Imaginary Friend/Telekinesis (14) - When I was young I had imaginary friends and boy, did we have fun
5. Death In The Afternoon/The Hoodoo Gurus (5) - Death in the afternoon
6. Violet Furs/The Whigs (5) - Crash in violet furs
7. Comfort/Michael Penn (5) - And you want to impress that you love me more or less
8. Old Old Fashioned/Frightened Rabbit (2) - I'll turn off the TV
9. The Watchmen/Deep Sea Diver (7) - When you were young we took you in
10. Thunderstorm/Matthew Sweet (7) - Sun is gone and I'm on my own in a thunderstorm

September's Coming Soon

I had this loose idea for a new mix on Wed. night and got it put together last night without over-thinking it too much. Bonus points if you know which song the title comes from...

1. This Summer/Superchunk
2. You Go Running/Deep Sea Diver
3. The House That Heaven Built/Japandroids
4. Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere/Neil Young
5. Teenage Dreams/Nada Surf
6. Anything We Want/Fiona Apple
7. In My Bed/The Orwells
8. My Love Is Real/Divine Fits
9. Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings/Father John Misty
10. Hold On/Alabama Shakes
11. Me And My Shadow/M. Ward
12. Golden/Kelly Hogan
13. Simple Song/The Shins
14. Five Seconds/Twin Shadow
15. Heartbreaker/The Walkmen
16. Happy Most Of The Time/Brendan Benson
17. Mean To Me/Ben Kweller
18. Something Changed/Pulp
19. Dawned On Me/Wilco
20. Planets/Teenage Fanclub
21. Nightswimming/R.E.M.
22. September Gurls/Big Star

Four, Twice

I'm halfway through a book right now and before I got too much farther, I thought I would pause and talk about the last four books I've read plus a comic.

Alif the Unseen by G. Willow Wilson - Alif is a computer hacker in a repressive Arab state who works for those who wish to speak their minds but stay out of jail. He is in love with a member of the royalty who tells him she is marrying another man. Life gets even more complicated from there with djinn and computer programs and trying to finally grow up. I didn't like Alif much at first but he grew on me as he grew and the book as a whole is fascinating - well-written, thoughtful, and full of cool ideas. I really dug it.

Sorry Please Thank You by Charles Yu - This is Yu's second story collection and the first since his excellent novel was published two years ago. The first story, "Standard Loneliness Package," tells the story of a man who works for a company that allows him to experience people's grief, sa…

Sunday Shuffle #295

Going to get right to today's ten...

1. A Trip Out/British Sea Power (3) - last played on 4/3/11
2. Shake The Sheets/Ted Leo & The Pharmacists (11) - last played on 9/4/11
3. Gone Daddy Gone/Violent Femmes (1) - first play since at least early 2010
4. Wrong/Archers of Loaf (9) - last played on 12/3/11
5. Love Is All I Am/Dawes (13) - last played on 3/4/12
6. Of The Sea/A.A. Bondy (4) - last played on 9/11/11
7. Brother Woodrow/Closing Prayer/The Afghan Whigs (9) - last played on 3/18/12
8. Embassy Row/Pavement (8) - last played on 1/13/12
9. Crimson/Apples In Stereo (2) - last played on 11/20/10
10. Major Label Debut/Broken Social Scene (3) - last played on 4/28/10

Sunday Shuffle #294

It's the last Sunday before the school year starts for my son and me - on Wednesday he starts his freshman year and I begin my fifth year at Central Elementary. Hard to believe. My wife has already been in school for a week and it's her 23rd year as a high school teacher already.

Speaking of numbers, she and I ran for just over 9 miles combined yesterday morning, which is just amazing. Here's a secret - we both enjoy it. Who would ever have guessed?

Okay, time to get to the number that matters most this morning - today's ten!

1. Fallin'/Paul Burch (1) - First play since iTunes was reconstructed in early 2010
2. Alpha Rats Nest/The Mountain Goats (3) - last played on 7/1/12
3. The Decibels and the Little Pills/American Music Club (3) - last played on 8/28/11
4. Say Goodnight/Dean & Britta (4) - last played on 3/13/11
5. Tape Song/The Kills (3) - last played on 10/29/10
6. Torture/King Khan and The Shrines (3) - last played on 7/8/11
7. We're Gonna Make It/Ma…

Sunday Shuffle #293

It's the home stretch for summer - my wife starts back to school tomorrow and my son and I have one more week left. The good news is I'm down to only 4 days left of being in the pool for hours every day; I like teaching swimming lessons but I'm definitely over-chlorinated at this point. One thing I can never have too much of is music, so let's get to today's ten...
1. Working Girls (Sunlight Shines)/Pernice Brothers (4) - last played on 1/13/12 2. Fuel For Fire/M. Ward (4) - last played on 6/10/12 3. Nothing Is True/Earlimart (5) - last played on 6/10/12 4. Starter/Portastatic (4) - last played on 10/9/11 5. January/Headlights (4) - last played on 8/12/11 6. Oceans In The Way/Dinosaur Jr. (12) - last played on 8/6/12 7. Windowsill/Arcade Fire (6) - last played on 8/5/12 8. Say You/Liz Phair (4) - last played on 2/19/12 9. No Way/Sonic Youth (3) - last played on 11/20/11 10. All My Banks/The Whigs (4) - last played on 7/29/12

Incoming: August 2012

I know we're already a week into August but I mention a few things I'm looking forward to this month...

Crackpot Palace by Jeffrey Ford - Ford is one of my favorite writers and his three previous story collections are all fantastic. I don't think I've read many of the stories collected here and I can't wait to sink my teeth into them. (8/14)

One Last Thing Before I Go by Jonathan Tropper - Tropper's last novel, This Is Where I Leave You, was one of my favorite books of the year back in 2010 and I have high hopes for this one as well. Tropper is funny and full of heart. (8/21)

Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend by Matthew Dicks - This novel is from the point of view of a child's imaginary friend and that concept is enough to make me want to read it. (8/21)

It Girl & The Atomics by Jamie S. Rich and Mike Norton - I was a big fan of Mike Allred's Madman Comics back in the 90s but I lost the thread with the series and its subsequent incarnations over the last d…

Sunday Shuffle #292

Today is my son's 15th birthday, so I'm going to throw in 5 more songs at no extra cost to you! Let's go...

1. Windowsill/Arcade Fire (5) - I don't want to hear the noises on TV
2. They Ran/My Morning Jacket (4) - Somebody stole my lighter
3. Old Hat/Ben Kweller (5) - Hello sweet friend of mine
4. Spazz/Stephen Malkmus (9) - Would you like to pet my rifle
5. Sidi Ifni/Cracker (4) - We walked down a long promenade
6. Odalisque/The Decemberists (4) - They've come to find you, Odalisque
7. The Underdog/Spoon (5) - Picture yourself in a living room
8. Rose Parade/Elliott Smith (7) - They asked me to come down and watch the rose parade
9. Mr. Grieves/TV On The Radio (2) - What's that floating in the water
10. Don't Come Back/Mary Weiss (6) - I've missed my chance to make you cry
11. Monster Closet/Two Hours Traffic (3) - The monster closet, that's where I stay now
12. Black Magic/Jarvis Cocker (4) - I woke up in the morning and all the bells were ringing

Prepare To Die, Hitless Wonder!

Time for another look at the books I've been reading lately. This covers the period from mid-June to this morning, when I finished the last book in bed.

Prepare To Die! by Paul Tobin - It should come as no surprise that I have a fondness for reading novels set in original super-hero universes (they call it "Genre Kryptonite" over at Book Riot). This is the story of Reaver, whose power is that he takes a year off of a person's life when he punches them. I don't think I've ever seen that as a power before, which I enjoyed. At the start of the book, Reaver is defeated by Octagon and a coalition of villains then is told to "prepare to die." He accepts but asks for two weeks to settle his affairs and is granted that respite. The novel is both his journey back home and a flashback to how he got to this point. It's an origin story and a love story and a story of what it actually means to be a hero. The character of Reaver has a tendency to reduce all th…

Doubling Up, Catching Up

I've written often about my relationship with comics and how I consume them. Back in the middle of March I  made the decision to stop buying single issues of comics again and to once again revert to trades. It was easy to do, especially having well over a dozen trades stacked up and waiting to be read (many are still waiting right now but that's beside the point).

A month ago, I decided to buy an iPad with money I received from very generous friends and relatives for my college graduation. I further decided to give digital comics a try. It turns out that I love reading comics on the iPad. Something about the glow of screen mixing with the art just works for me on a level I didn't expect. As an added bonus, reading comics digitally also solves one of my biggest problems with buying single issues - having a pile of comics around all the time. So, I am officially hooked.

When I stopped reading single issues in mid-March, I'd read 22 this year. As of last night (the end of…

Sunday Shuffle #291

This will be the first regular edition of the Sunday Shuffle since the end of June. My to-do list today includes finishing the book I'm reading (Year Zero) and finishing the trade I'm reading (Batman: The Black Mirror). Oh, and watching the White Sox sweep the Rangers. Sounds like a good day, doesn't it? Let's get to it and today's ten...

1. Kick Drum Heart/The Avett Brothers (6) - last played on 2/18/12
2. Clementine/The Decemberists (3) - last played on 1/25/12
3. Crooked Roof/J Tillman (6) - last played on 5/17/12
4. All My Banks/The Whigs (3) - last played on 4/15/12
5. Marie/Steve Earle (3) - last played on 6/24/10
6. Queen Bitch/Rhett Miller (4) - last played on 4/29/12
7. Never Here/Higgins (6) - last played on 7/26/12
8. Tweakers/Spoon (2) - last played on 6/11/11
9. Rubies/Destroyer (5) - last played on 6/17/12
10. A Slow Parade/A.A. Bondy (11) - last played on 6/18/12

Sunday Shuffle #289/290

It has been a busy couple of weeks, filled not only with a vacation but also Shakespeare in the park and a wedding down around Purdue, to name the bigger events. You may have noticed that this is another "double issue" - we will be away on another mini-vacation at the end of the week so it's just easier to do things this way. I hope to get back to posting more often this week but it may not happen with the short week. Anyway, let's get to today's twenty...

1. Make It Right/J Mascis (15) - last played on 3/17/12
2. Destroyer/Crooked Fingers (4) - last played on 11/13/10
3. I Understand/Sloan (13) - last played on 7/9/12
4. Not Your Lover/Blitzen Trapper (2) - last played on 10/27/10
5. When I Lose My Eyes/Saturday Looks Good To Me (5) - last played on 5/13/12
6. All the Lightning Rods/Centro-Matic (4) - last played on 2/20/12
7. For An Hour With You/J Tillman (4) - last played on 5/17/12
8. Every Single Switch/Centro-Matic (4) - last played on 6/25/12
9. Ill Place…

Sunday Shuffle #287/288

It's time for a double dose of Sunday Shuffle, as we will be driving back from upstate New York next Sunday, a very long drive. It's a trip I'm very much looking forward to, not just because it's a vacation but because we get to spend many days with family at a beautiful lake. So, without further ado, here are today's twenty...

1. Fernando/The Baseball Project (3) - last played on 6/19/12
2. I Read A Lot/Nick Lowe (6) - last played on 6/11/12
3. Little Bird/Eels (4) - last played on 10/30/10
4. Rider/Okkervil River (11) - last played on 6/5/12
5. Champagne Year/St. Vincent (10) - last played on 12/28/11
6. Lie/Higgins (4) - last played on 6/1/12
7. Gotta Get It Right Now/Telekinesis (17) - last played on 5/6/12
8. Surgeon/St. Vincent (10) - last played on 12/28/11
9. Built It Up/Higgins (4) - last played on 6/1/12
10. Pieces/Dinosaur Jr. (10) - last played on 6/28/12
11. Mellotron 2/Apples In Stereo (3) - last played on 3/4/12
12. Shock And Awe/Teenage Fanclub (18)…

Sunday Shuffle #286

Hard to believe it's the last Sunday in June already...

1. Everyone I Know Is Listening To Crunk/Lightspeed Champion (3) - last played on 2/24/11
2. I am Morris Townsend (No-Fi Transmission) - The Prayers & Tears of Arthur Digby Sellers (5) - last played on 11/20/11
3. The Rabbit, The Bat & The Reindeer/Dr. Dog (4) - last played on 8/10/11
4. Aly, Walk With Me/The Raveonettes (4) - last played on 7/18/11
5. My Heart's Reflection/Yo La Tengo (3) - last played on 11/27/11
6. Dead End/The Format (4) - last played on 12/18/11
7. One For The Cutters/The Hold Steady (6) - last played on 5/13/12
8. She Loves You [Mono]/The Beatles (4) - last played on 2/5/12
9. It's Plain To See/Sloan (20) - last played on 4/11/12
10. Out The Door/Ben Kweller (13) - last played on 5/10/12

Unpossible To Alpha

I have not done a good job of talking about the books I've been reading, so here's a rundown of everything I've read since the last time I did so (which was back in the middle of March. Yikes!)....

Unpossible and Other Stories by Daryl Gregory - When I read the titular story when it was first published in F&SF, I knew that Gregory was a writer worth reading. "Unpossible" is about a man who used to travel between worlds when he was a child and how he tries to do it now that he's middle-aged and it is utterly brilliant. Other stories are about a world of super-heroes and villains (for which I am a sucker), the rise of a new religion, a woman who spends most of her time thinking and needs others to watch her body, and so much more. All are well worth reading.

Our Noise: The Story of Merge Records by John Cook with Mac McCaughn and Laura Ballance - Merge Records is one of, if not the best record label out there. This book came out a few years ago to celebrate M…