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Showing posts from December, 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,…