The best music of 2008.

If iTunes can have celebrity playlists, and Stephen King can provide a head-scratcher of a top ten list, then I can tell you which songs I feel were the best of this year.

To hear the songs named, simply go to the music player in the right-hand column, where they are listed in order. (To scroll beyond the first eight songs, click the forward button in the player's toolbar) Discover awesome music today!

1. "Closer" Kings of Leon. This is the best song I've heard in years. I like atmospheric music that reeks of shadows and deep colors and a certain agelessness. So while not everyone may enjoy this song - too dark, too spooky, too whatever - I am gonna love it for a long, long time. (from the album Only By the Night)

2. "Neptune City" Nicole Atkins. While technically her album came out in 2007, I discovered it in February and bought it on faith that my friend Mark knows his music. Surreal sixties pop with flashes of beautiful color mixed with the oceanic hues of the titular planet, "Neptune City" is just one awe-inspiring musical moment after the other. It is the most gorgeous, other-worldly green for me. Yes. Synesthesia. Anywho, I should clarify that Neptune City is her Jersey hometown, and also, that this is one of the best albums ever. (from the album Neptune City)

3. "Light On" David Cook. There are Idol contestants I've been more rabid about. But David is a rocker I can get behind, and his album is extremely solid. This is his debut single and it's really catchy and earnest and should be number one but the machine, man, the machine holds us down... (from the album David Cook)

4. "The Girl You Lost to Cocaine" Sia. I think her album was the first I purchased this year, and it has yet to disappoint. I like this song because it's peppy and orange and doesn't back down from the title. And...there's just this 'something' about Sia's music that is instantly identifiable as hers. Something quirky, something a bit off, kind of like the woman herself. (from the album Some People Have Real Problems)

5. "Last Day of Magic" The Kills. I have the iTunes Free Digital Download of the Week to thank for discovering this group. Just a guy, a girl, and their underground garage rock. One reviewer described their sound as being piped through a dirty gym sock. Don't let that scare you off, though; there is some serious musicianship and musical knowledge underlying these edgy, gritty, cantankerous songs. 'LDM' is just one of many gems. (from the album Midnight Boom)

6. "Rockferry" Duffy. Initially her voice irked me, but when put to use on a song as soulful as this one, I can hang. I don't know what's in Britain's water lately, but they're gaining the edge on what used to be an American institution. (Uh, that would be soul music) (from the album Rockferry)

7. "A Falling Through" Ray LaMontagne. I've already sung his praises in this blog. This song is slow, dreamy, sad, unapologetically wistful. The chorus is so beautifully simple: "Why? Why did you go away from me?" (from the album Gossip in the Grain)

8. "See My Side" Jordin Sparks. I'm cheating again. Her album came out last year. But it's another great album from an Idol winner, and this song, whether or not laypeople and suits alike know it, is a grand achievement. Robotically minimalistic and quite melodic at the same time, it's the best song a lot of so-called 'superstars' in Jordin's genre never got to sing. (from the album Jordin Sparks)

9. "Going On" Gnarls Barkley. A go-go dance of a song with an intriguingly creepy atmosphere. It's been nominated for a Grammy. I know good music, people!! (from the album The Odd Couple)

10. "Hometown Glory" Adele. Another British soul singer. She's getting pretty popular and that's awesome. If you catch her performing live or on talk shows, I know you'll be impressed. Recently she performed on Leno and it was just her and a guitar. The voice, top notch. And she's plus-sized. We need more like her, desperately. (from the album 19)

11. "Limbo No More" Alanis Morissette. Alanis and I have been through some stuff. That's all I can write without getting choked up. I typically like her out-and-out rockers more, but this is one of the very few 'slow' songs of hers that is just beautiful. And it's life-affirming, too. (from the album Flavors of Entanglement)

12. "Elephants" Rachael Yamagata. Love. Predatory instinct. Together at last. While I don't know too much about this singer yet, this song is quiet and honest and lovely. And what a nice change to hear such an alto. (from the album Elephants...Teeth Sinking Into Heart)

Well, I have to stop somewhere, huh. I hope I've introduced you to a least a couple of new songs you can enjoy. Nothing too annoyingly mainstream, nothing too ridiculously elitist. Just the way it oughtta be.

Happy New Year, all.


Klaatu barada nicto.

Saw The Day the Earth Stood Still last night.

How to keep this post relatively short...hmm.

In both the original and the remake, the little boy's father has died in the war. He and Klaatu visit the grave at Arlington.

In the remake, the boy (played by Will Smith's son, Jaden) is lamenting how his father left him.

Klaatu replies (and I paraphrase), "You know, nothing ever really dies. The universe wastes nothing. Things are merely transformed."

Earlier in the movie, Professor Barnhardt (played by John Cleese) is reasoning with Klaatu about the impending end of the world, saying how many civilizations have come to a major crisis, and many have been destroyed. But sometimes, in the nearness of destruction, we as humans realize how much we are capable of, and we change accordingly, we evolve. Instead of diverting what can be the 'end of the world,' it is possible to allow such circumstances to create something worth more than what came before.

A few weeks ago I posted a single thought, ganked shamelessly from someone's e-mail signature: "Just when the caterpillar thought its life was over, it turned into a butterfly."

Normally I find e-mail signatures cheeky and pendantic...but this one has always stayed with me. Imagine knowing - without a doubt, you're sure - that you are going to die. Everything is coming to ruins. Light is being snuffed out. Time is about to stop. Death is here.

And then...you transform, into something more beautiful and free than you ever knew existed.

For these reasons, I found The Day the Earth Stood Still more than worth my time.


Visitors from beyond the exosphere!!!

This is flippin' awesome!!

(Don't mind the overstated title)


Factoids from the continuum.

Just some facts from around the web:

Did you know that the average bedroom carpet has 45,729,034 fibers??

Did you know the price of one McDonald's value meal would feed eight families in Tibet??

Did you know that nearly 80% of colorblind men are also ambidextrous?

Did you know that as a Rough Rider, Teddy Roosevelt once shot his horse for looking at him "quite oddly"??

Did you know that Mother Goose is actually based on the axe-wielding prohibitionist Carrie Nation?

Did you know that Roseanne Barr studied classical voice for three semesters at Berklee School of Music?

Did you know that 1 in 3 adults has both male and female reproductive organs and does not know it??

Did you know that I'm making all this stuff up???

Hee hee.



All I gotta say is, this was my favorite show as a kid.

And the guy who played Jeff the manequinn, also played the title role in The Phantom of the Opera, in the Canadian traveling production.

*moment of silence*


Would that be the Pacific, or the Atlantic, or......?

Disclaimer: into a vast ocean, I merely dip a toe.

I find the trend in current music interesting, how popular the artists are who draw on old-school soul and rock. Generally, a mixing of musical styles is something that excites me so I have no qualms about it. My personal favorite example is Nicole Atkins, who exceptionally recreates a sixties pop haze while gently incorporating contemporary flavors. If you haven’t heard her album Neptune City, then you honestly don’t know what you’re missing.

The first quote of Baudrillard’s that I used on Nov. 7 was, I believe, a prediction, a foreshadowing of the pinnacle of a postmodern world. “A universe where…it has all been done.” Are we getting there? I think so.

Oftentimes I’m driven to think, what if the ‘best’ has already been done? (And yes, I understand what an incendiary word that is in these postmodern times) The middle of the last millennium saw such a perfecting of forms in art and music and literature (baroque and classical and romantic); what if, to continue creating new forms in art, we are forced to go further and further from that which human discernment finds acceptable? And in avoiding that, what if all that is left to be done is ‘playing with the pieces,’ as Baudrillard said?

That being said, I'm aware that no one truly knows what the future holds. There have been some sci-fi prophets but, it will always be difficult for the contemporary mind to comprehend a futuristic world. (Just look at the old show "Space: 1999")

I quoted the French philosopher’s ‘radical antagonism’ statement because, in short, I believe that chaos is a direct result of infinite diversity and the free will given us. There is to be no equilibrium found, though we may conceive of it and hope for it.

And the ‘immanent purpose of obscenity,’ I see it as I have always seen it: the human mind becomes bored. There is no recycling of interest. Whether individually or as a group, we must take something to its extreme as an alternative to abandoning it; you know the extreme has been reached when the only thing left to do is to reflexively go backward and reclaim some of the old order. And what are we left with?

Playing with the pieces.

The book is Postmodern Theory: Critical Interrogations.


See for yourself.

"Quantum entanglement is a phenomenon in which the quantum states of two or more objects are linked together so that one object can no longer be adequately described without full mention of its counterpart — even though the individual objects may be spatially separated."

I wonder if this is what love is like.


Postmodernity as dystopia.

Courtesy of Jean Baudrillard, French philosopher and sometime-postmodern theorist:

"[The postmodern is] characteristic of a universe where there are no more definitions possible. It has all been done. The extreme limit of these possibilities has been reached. It has destroyed itself. It has deconstructed its entire universe. So all that are left are pieces. All that remains to be done is to play with the pieces. Playing with the pieces - that is postmodern."

"The universe is not dialectical. It moves toward the extremes, and not towards equilibrium; it is devoted to a radical antagonism, and not to reconciliation or to synthesis."

"Things have found a way to elude the dialectic of meaning, a dialectic which bored them: they did this by infinite proliferation...and by obscenity which henceforth has become their immanent purpose and insane justification."



Yesterday I turned over in my grave.

Sometimes, kids are awesome.

(Note the key word, "sometimes.")

I read some Halloween jokes to the kids that had off school today, and honestly, their guesses at the responses were way funnier than the mostly lame punchlines. I present to you the best of what came out of their befuddled mouths:

Why don't angry witches ride their brooms?
They need to sweep their angry floor.

Where do baby ghosts go during the day?
They "ghost" to sleep.

Who did Frankenstein take to the prom?
His mom.

What does a ghost eat for lunch?

What is a ghost's favorite article of clothing?
Ghost panties.

Who did the ghost invite to his party?
His mom.

Why didn't the skeleton dance at the party?
Because he would have broken his bones.

Where do most werewolves live?
On top of the rocks. (?????)

Sheer hilarity arrived when I asked what you call a witch who lives at the beach (or whatever), and one poor girl tried to say 'beach witch' but - well...dyslexia, anyone?

Sheer. Hilarity.