December 2008


Narrowing down the list of shows I saw this year will be very difficult, as I don’t make it a habit to go see crappy bands :-)

Obvious wins. There is no universe in which I wouldn’t have enjoyed:

Less obvious.

If I had to pick a favorite, I might be tempted to go with the Old 97’s. I mean, when Rhett Miller melts your panties, it’s gonna be difficult for anyone to top that.

What bands did you enjoy live this year?

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As always, I remain firmly behind in my reading list. It’s a losing game. Still, I did read SOME books this year and these were my favorites. Note that these were not published in 2008, just stuff I read this year.

Fiction:

Non-fiction:

What do you recommend that you read this year?

This year we really didn’t see much else outside our ACT subscription. I think in previous years we’ve managed to see one or two productions at other places.

By far the highlight for me of the ACT season was White White Black Stork. I might put it among the top 10 plays/productions I’ve ever seen, which is a pretty intense compliment for a show that I had to read translated supertitles to understand.

What plays did you enjoy this year?

My “music” category is mostly about live shows, as opposed to whatever I might be listening to and enjoying. Maybe next year I’ll try to stick in a few posts like that.

Bands I discovered this year and am now BFF with:

  • Great Lake Swimmers [thanks Webbie!]
  • Sun Kil Moon [again, thanks Webbie!]
  • Head Like a Kite
  • Throw Me the Statue
  • The Ravonettes
  • Cut Copy
  • Frightened Rabbit
  • She & Him

Albums other than those by the above-mentioned bands that I listened to a lot this year:

  • Heretic Pride, The Mountain Goats [no surprise to anyone who knows me]
  • Stay Positive, The Hold Steady [ditto]
  • Distortion, The Magnetic Fields [uh, ditto]
  • In Our Bedroom After the War, Stars
  • Magic, Bruce Springsteen
  • A Mad and Faithful Telling, DeVotchKa

Disappointments:

  • Hard Candy, Madonna. After LOVING the previous year’s Confessions on a Dance Floor I barely played this at all.
  • Directions to See a Ghost, The Black Angels. Their debut was awesome, this follow-up just didn’t grab me as much.

What are your favorites from the past year?

Holy crap, the end of the year is almost upon us and I have yet to begin my favorite year-end activity: making lists! Glorious lists!

2008 was a great year in my kitchen. Taking a nice long break from gainful employment freed me to do a lot of exploring. I set a goal to cook something new or use a new ingredient every week (within reason) and I really managed to do pretty well with that.

Savory highlights:

Dessert/sweet highlights:

Reviewing my cooking posts is a good kick in the pants – with the emphasis on new new new all the time this year, I didn’t re-make many of these and I should totally do that. I seriously need to start making soup – haven’t made any yet this fall/winter :-(

What did you make this year that you liked?

Throw Me The Statue is one of the bands I’m happy I discovered this year. I first heard them covering a couple of Liz Phair tracks at the Exile in {Imaginary} Girlville show over the summer and again at Bumbershoot. They play some darn fine indie pop/rock and “About To Walk” is one of my favorite songs of the year.

The luxury of playing in their hometown meant that they could be joined as needed by a horn section. More bands need a horn section, you guys. Srsly. They also decided to decorate Neumo’s with about 2 dozen huge paper snowflakes, and they dressed all in white. I approve.

One of the highlights was them covering the Huey Lewis & The News song “This Is It” in a languid way that was nearly unrecognizable but still totally awesome. For an encore, they covered a Built To Spill song. All in all, it was a great show, nicely raw-sounding. Pix of horn sections & paper snowflakes after the jump.

[Aside: What’s up with the resurgence of Huey Lewis lately? The TV show Chuck has used a few of their songs this season, and I feel like I’ve encountered them somewhere else too.]

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Merry Christmas!

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