Friday, December 19, 2008

Favorite Albums of '08

I try to listen to all the new stuff and this list includes my favorite albums I have listened to all year.  There are albums out there that I enjoyed but I do not actually have the whole album so they have been relegated to the Honorable Mention list (Lykke Li , Why?MGMT and Woodhands,).  I was also letdown by some heavy hitters (Tapes N' Tapes and Islands).  I have complied a playlist of my favorite song from each of the albums and it should be available somewhere on this page so can listen and read if you want.

10. The Constanitines: Kensington Heights

I never really understood The Cons until I saw them live. This album is full of slow burn tracks that they are totally gonna kill live!

9.  The Hold Steady: Stay Positive

A bit of a let down comapred to Boys and Girls of America but if you get the bonus track that I found on my torrent the whole thing turns into a killer album

8.  City and Colour: Bring Me Your Love

Someday EMO will be cool and this will be one of the best 
albums of that genre.  This might be the first decent emo-folk crossover album...but why would anyone care enough to prove me wrong.

7. Wolf Parade: At Mount Zoomer

I'm not sure if I ever gave this album enough time...perhaps over the next few months it will become amazing but for now it is just a decent follow up to "Apologies...".  I may have thought more about this band than any other band (except The Beatles) in the last 3 years so my expectations might be exceedingly high.  Also the album title and artwork really sucks.

6.  Hot Chip: Made In The Dark

Makes me want to dance in the dark!  Equal parts fast and slow dance music.

5. Los Campesinos: Hold on Now, Youngster.../We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed

This year this band matured in front of my ears.  They went from the joyousness of  a twee 21 year old to the jaded cynicism of a 22 year old!

4. She and Him: Volume 1

Zoey Dachenel (of Elf fame and sister of "Bones") conqured the indie music world with the help of M Ward.  A mix of classics and new classics made this album timeless (when I say timeless I mean it sounds exactly like it was made at a very specific time. So maybe this album is "timeful" but thats not a word).  I think my mom might even like it

3. Tokyo Police Club: Elephant Shell

This band delivered exactly what they promised on their "Lesson In Crime" EP.  This album is just full of catchy tunes...hard not to like.

2. Vampire Weekend: Vampire Weekend

This album was released in January but it is full of summer songs and survived a full year's worth of hype.  It might be an instant classic.  Again, Mom might like it too.

1. Thao & The Get Down Stay Down: We Brave Bee Stings And All

I already told you what I thought of this...don't make me repeat myself, the internet has only so much space.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Favorite Videos of '08

My favorite music videos of '08 are below. I am keeping it to 3 because I probably watched a total of 15 videos all year and think a Top 10 would not be very helpful (who or what am I helping by posting this? I have no clue). My choices range from the super Hi-Tech camera free video from Radiohead to the Melodrama-tech from Gnarls Barkley and the Pyro-tech of Feist.

"House of Cards" by Radiohead

also check out their fan video's and an honorable mention to Nude (Scotish Mist)

"Who Is Gonna Save My Soul" by Gnarls Barkley (Spoiler alert: This Caution contains a spoiler. Caution: this video on involves a computer generated Human heart walking around a dinner)

"I feel It All" by Feist

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The Happiness Project

As an Arts & Crafts fanboy it is my responsibility to hype and plug every project Broken Social Scene has ever conceived, as a collective or as individuals.  So one of the members has a new album coming out. Chris Spearin of BSS and Do Make Say Think and KC Accidental fame has released the first song off his new album, The Happiness Project.  An interesting idea.  He interviewed people in his neighborhood about happiness and he would turn the interviews into songs.  His website explains it much better than I can:  

"I wanted to see if I could blur the line between speaking and singing - life and art? - and write music based on these accidental melodies. So I had some musician friends play, as close as they could, these neighbourhood melodies on different instruments (Mrs. Morris on the tenor saxophone, Marisa on the harp, my daughter Ondine on the violin, etc.) and then I arranged them as though they were songs. "
The first song he has released is "Anna" and the full album is expected to be realeased on Valentine's Day of 2009.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Top TV of '08

My Favorite TV of 2008 in no particular order and not necessarily from 2008

New to me category (meaning I just watched every episode sometime this year even though it has been around for at least 2 years):

The Wire (HBO)
I try to tell everyone I meet to watch this gritty Cop/Drug dealer Dramedy.  I watched all five seasons in the matter of 3 months I think (I would have finished it quicker but I had to wait for season 5 to come out on DVD).  It was, by far, the greatest ensemble cast I have ever seen.  A lot of unknown actors and a lot of great writing.  It details the drug trade in the projects
 of Baltimore. It takes a frank look at the dealers, the cops and the users.  You find yourself somehow cheering for all interested parties.  You simultaneuosly want the users to get clean the cops to catch the dealers and the dealers to keep dealing and getting away with it.  Each season takes on a different facet of the problem of American inner cities.  From education to politics to the press to legalization of narcotics.  Every time I see an actor from the Wire on a different show I cringe because it makes the whole thing feel less authentic.  I don't know what else to say about this show...absolutely amazing.  The writers create a whole city of characters in all walks of life.


Mad Men (AMC)
I begrudgingly give this show its propers because I railed against its endless ads on
 AMC interrupting The Godfather Trilogy.  It takes place in Madison Avenue advertising agency in the early 60's.  Its a strange show because every time I watch it I wish they would just get to making the ads...this is strange because I originally hated the show because of the ads now all i want to see in the show is the ads they produce.  The style of the time represented in the show is something worth noticing and watching for.  Its also fun hearing them addressing issues like Feminism, Race Relations, Smoking and why Kennedy will never be president because he doesn't wear a hat.  Again there are a lot of good characters in here including the mysterious main character Don Draper. But there are some absolutely hate-able characters.  Pete Campbell, for one, is a character i want to punch every time he is on screen.  Mrs. Draper is a confusing character....I want to hate her but she is continually lied to...she is a victim but she is also incredibly might be a case of bad acting but I can't tell the difference.  There is a lot of drama and mystery in this show.  It is not just ad pitches and beehives.

Old to Me and hopefully to you:

30 Rock (NBC)

It finally got the praise it deserved this year.  This show has 3-5 great, hilarious charcters.  Alec Baldwin and Tracy Morgan each get to deliver amazing lines that are so good and so quick that you have to rewind and watch again to make sure they said what you thought they said.  Tina Fey is one of the funniest women ever!  she is like 10x Roseanne Bar (not in size but in comedic talent).

The Office (NBC)

Still love the UK version more but this American caricature just keeps on going.  The Jim and Pam story line has gone a little too "Ross and Rachel" for my taste but Dwight, Andy and Michael keep me coming back week after week.

Kenny Vs. Spenny (Showcase)

2 best friends compete week after week in silly, childish competitions that you wish you had the time to undertake.  Some of the best include: first to laugh loses, who can gain the most weight, who can stay nude the longest, first guy to get a stain loses, who do gay guys like the most and it goes on and on and on.  Spenny thinks every competition is a chance to learn more about the world and educate the viewers about "important issues" while Kenny sees every competition as an opportunity to cheat and mess with Spenny's fragile grasp on sanity.  This show is not for the faint of heart.  every episode has at least one gross out moment that should not be allowed on TV.  Luckily for you they make every episode available on Youtube...If you are not my mother and don't mind some "toilet" humor start here at their absolute just gets funnier from here.

anyway those are my favorite shows I have been watching for the past year.  I hope you watch just one...maybe two.  if you already watch all of these shows we should like hang out or something.


It was one year ago today (Dec 13) that I defended my master's thesis.  I was just thinking about it today and wanted to relay a few memories.

I recall the week before the defense I would write a list of things I was shaky on and go study them.  This is a really tough task because if I was still shaky on it at this point it was probably because I had no clue where to start.  Its also tough because you have to be honest with yourself about what you just don't get.  

I also spent my time reading the thesis and looking for outrageous claims that I might have to defend.  this was a bad idea for a few reasons.  First, I wrote the thing and edited it.  I knew the whole thing pretty well and I defused most of my outrageous claims.  Second, reading my thesis was the one thing my examiners did not do.  That is not entirely true but they definitely skimmed over all the sticky wickets I found. 

As I was prepping the presentation I kept reminding myself that I actually did all this work and put my time in.  I wrote the thesis.  I know what I am talking about! There is no way they could fail me!  None of the examiners are jerks. They all like my supervisor.  This should be a lay-up.

I get into the examination room and set up the computer.  The first examiner comes in and asks me if I am feeling OK... I say "yeah i guess, just nervous".  She says "Oh cause you look pale".  I think to myself "Its December, I've spent the last month at my computer, I'm pale to begin with, I'm nervous.  Of Course I'm Pale! Are you some sort of a scientist or something?  Your powers of observation are ASTOUNDING!"  I say: "Oh, I feel fine. I'm sure its nothing. Thank You"

I continue to tell myself that I am fine.  They can't fail me.  I start the presentation.  no confused looks from the audience. No feverish writing...everything is going smoothly.  I think I got at least one laugh.  I finish the presentation.

The Questions Start.

They come out of left field.  If I spent 1 year preparing for this defense I would have never thought to research for these questions...I do alright.  I answer one question by telling the examiner that "normally i would try to B.S. my way through an answer but I will just tell you that I have no clue"

The defense is over...they ask me to leave so they can discuss my presentation and vote to pass or fail.  I step out the door and the only thing I can think is HOLY (expletive deleted) They Could Fail ME!

They passed me...If I had one tip for future defenders; skip the thesis re-read and work on your tan!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

It's Science

As a scientist I am compelled to undertake experiments not for myself but for the greater good of humanity.  A few months ago, right here on this blog, I swore off TV as a waste of time (except for the exceptions).  I took it upon myself as an experiment in the human condition and I learned a lot about myself and the world at large.  For instance, did you know that in 1974, the Cleveland Indians hosted a "Dime Beer Night"  where they sold beer to the fans in Municipal Stadium for $0.10 each.  Unfortunately for the Cleveland Indians they had to forfeit the game because of "unruly" fans (please click the link and read more!).  Who could have seen that coming? In my time without TV I have blogged (NOTE:  linking to your own Blog?  doesn't get much worse than that!), I have read a book, I have read several issues of TIME magazine (not really worth it.  they always seems to be at least 1 week behind the real news), I have explored the world of pet ownership, I have attempted to work out a sabermetrics for my iTunes stats, I have gone car shopping, I have toyed with stop-motion movies (200 views...on the verge of Viral!) and I have taken far too many pictures of Downtown Charlottetown.  It truly has been a rich experience and I feel much better because of it.

But there comes a time in every experiment when you have to compare your results with another set of data.  That time begins NOW (or sometime between 9 am and 1pm)

For some reason the good people at Eastlink Cable have decided I am ready for a paradigm shift.  I'm not sure if they read my blog or if they noticed I wasn't using my cable as much as I used to or maybe I am just a valued customer but they got the message.  Today the "Cable Guy" hooked me up with EVERY channel of digital cable they have!  Now the offer only lasts for two months so I have to maximize my time with it to get proper data.  

Sometime in February, when HBO and TMN and The NHL network and NBC Seattle and Court TV and Much VIBE and BBC Kids fade to black, I will emerge from my cocoon.  Physically, I will be a pale shadow of my former self but mentally, I hypothesize that I will be so thoroughly entertained that I will never have to read a book EVER AGAIN (I will be also getting the Book Channel so I've got that covered)!  Remember, I am not doing it for myself,  I am doing it for you!

"Unfortunately", Christmas is upon us and I will be leaving Charlottetown for 2 weeks and there might be some holes in my data.  I will be in Toronto from Dec 20th - Dec 29th then I'll be heading out to Vancouver for New Years...and then back to Charlottetown.  I hope I get to see all of my readers on my whirlwind tour (this is likely seeing as at least 2/3 of my readers are my mom...Hi Mom! I can say 2/3 because she reads it once and then she calls me and we read it together so she can correct my spelling and grammar and I can explain to her why I think what I wrote was funny.  If my other reader needs an explanation on why I think what I write is funny please let me know!)

Stay tuned here...I have a few other blog worthy topics that I might get out soon.  Also i think  I will trickle out some "Favorite of '08" stuff.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Laundry tip

I found this video on Youtube and it may have changed the way I do laundry forever! The ancient japanese art of t-shirt folding. I think this move was one of Mr. Miagi's teaching tools that was left on the cutting room floor of The Karate Kid.  Also it didn't make much sense when Daniel-san used it to break that other kid's neck in the preliminary round of the Karate tournament.  This video makes it even more likely that I will start my dream career at the GAP or even The Old Navy!

Also for your viewing and listening pleasure.  You're The Best Around (SPOILER ALERT...if you have never seen Karate Kid you are really missing out).