Ishpeming, and Best of 2006

Greetings from the Carnegie Public Library here in my hometown of Ishpeming, MI. It's been a wonderful Christmas holiday so we opened gifts with the Rundman half of the family. I got some rockin' new winter gloves, some official Finnish sauna soap, a Leo Kottke CD (beautiful!), and some cash to spend on whatever I want. Thanks, Santa!

In the past I've created elaborate Top 10 lists of my favorite films and CDs of the preceding calendar year, but having children has drastically limited my moviegoing, so the film list has been discontinued. The CD list has become very difficult to complete 'cause in recent years I haven't been able to list 10 new CDs that I've been truly excited about. So maybe I'll try to just mention the one or two examples of "Best" that I can think of:

Little Miss Sunshine: easily the best movie I've seen in 2006, and perhaps the best comedy I've seen in about 5 years.

I haven't written down a list, but I'll try to do this from memory:
T-Bone Burnett: this year he put out a 30-year-retrospective as well as a new album, and they're both really really good.
Other than T-Bone, I really can't think of any new releases (I guess I liked the Raconteurs). However, there were some older releases that became HUGE faves of mine this year:

ROCKPILE: Seconds of Pleasure. This 1980 supergroup led by Nick Lowe has been life-altering for me.
MARSHALL CRENSHAW: I've been a fan since 1989, but this year his music really connected with me.
R.E.M.: I've been a fan since 1987, but with the release of their Best of the IRS Years album, I was reintroduced to a very important part of my musical f0undation.
BRUCE COCKBURN: purchasing his early-70s era folky albums in all their remastered glory has been a musical delight.
ASIA: I picked up the 2-disc set "Gold" featuring all their early-80s albums remastered together, and their blend of arena rock, prog, and pop just sounded perfect to my ears this year.

It's nice to hear that my own Protestant Rock Ethic album is turning up on some end of the year "Best of" lists! Check out this nice comment from Clint in Wisconsin.

If I may comment on another arm of the media, I spent about 10 hours on Christmas Eve watching cable television. I usually watch about 2 hours of TV per week (without cable), so watching 10 hours in one day was a real eye-opener. Of all that viewing only a couple hours were worth watching:

+ Dec 25th taping of Meet the Press: Tim Russert interviews Pastor Rick Warren and Newsweek Editor Jon Meacham (maybe?) about Christianity in America. Fascinating!
+ The Best of Triumph the Insult Comic Dog: 90 minutes of gut-busting laughter
+ some CNN show about the Future of the Internet: very interesting!

+ The E channel presents "O Starry Night:" Christmas Carols (religous ones!) played in the background while a montage of celebrity red carpet photos rolls. Look, it's Charlize Theron in a sequin dress as we listen to "Silent Night!" This was somewhere between annoying and blasphemous, but I can't figure out how to explain it.
+ CMT Country Music Videos: how can I watch 90 minutes of videos throughout the day and see the SAME stupid Keith Urban video THREE times? And why is Keith Urban a country artist? Obviously he's a great guitarist and good singer (and hot dude), but the songs were totally NOT-country, and otherwise totally forgettable. And what's with Toby Keith binding a hot chick to a chair in a basement and then threatening her? I felt like I had stubled onto a showing of "Saw 2" or something.
+ The Girls Next Door: a reality show about Hugh Hefner and his THREE girlfriends...the episode I saw featured Hugh and one of the girls celebrating their anniversary, with help from the other two. I'm wondering how this is not prostitution. He gets these chicks as his love slaves, in exchange for giving them room and board and probably some kind of financial stipend. Sounds like prostitution to me! The thing that made it so disturbing was how "safe" and "harmless" and "fun" the show seems on the surface. I was reminded of the Rainmakers' song "Good Sons and Daughters" where Bob Walkenhorst sings about "Hefner's sly hate."

Well, there's a snapshot of my media exposure of late. Hope y'all had a wonderful holiday! Back to my Mom's house now for lasagna!


I needed to be reminded why I tend to stick to watching Ellen (sometimes), ER, certain sitcoms, some Food Netowrk, Nickelodeon, and Disney Channel shows??? I prefer entertainment that doesn't heavily lean on swearing and sex. The "kid" and "tween" stuff still rocks IMHO.

My parents have digital cable. . .so many channels. And the most watched higher one is The Game Show Network (oh, yeah, I love game shows, too. . .)

The way I tend to hear about those shows and things you mentioned is either by reading like right now or because I like to watch Jay Leno's beginning and sometimes there's a guest or two I like to see, so I see others as well. . .

Merry Christmas, Jonathan - to you and your family. Tell Dawn, Paavo, and Svea - and all the rest, Merry Christmas!

Stein Auf!

oh. . .January 6th and it's party season in Louisiana. "Bridget gave us a king cake and Troy almost ate the baby. . ." (though he didn't really, though he did get the baby!)
Rimbo said…
Ok, I'll jog your memory, Jonathan. Here's my top 10 releases of 2006.

10. The Avett Brothers -- Four Thieves Gone (What can I say about this album? Drunken backwoods campfire music? Yeah.)

9. Gnarls Barkley -- St. Elsewhere (I jumped on this bandwagon. I think I liked this so much because something about the recording quality says "motown/soul.")

8. Sufjan Stevens -- Songs for Christmas (Sufjan's Christmas boxset is expansive and beautiful. Also the first album I'm owned that includes a booklet with chord charts to play along at home!)

7. Chris Thile -- How To Grow A Woman From The Ground (The new solo album from Nickel Creek's amazing mandolinist wasn't as mindblowing as I would have liked, but there's still some great stuff here -- esp. the cover of the White Stripes' "Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground.")

6. Derek Webb -- Mockingbird (Kudos to Derek Webb for writing controversial lyrics like "my enemies are men like me" and then releasing it for free online. And not because it sucks.)

5. MuteMath - S/T (Mutemath is on the forefront of "Christian" music (blecch) that pushes stylistic boundaries. For fans of the Police and Radiohead.)

4. The Hold Steady -- Boys and Girls in America (This twin-cities local-gone-national act made a lot of top ten lists for album of the year. It reminds me of Bruce Springsteen, with a jagged edge.)

3. Mindy Smith -- Long Island Shores (Jonathan -- I'd daresay you'd love this album. Poppy, smart, spiritual. Buddy Miller producing.)

2. Fuller Still - Color and Feeling (I won't put us at number one, but this album was a big deal for me this year.)

1. BNL -- Barenaked Ladies Are Me (I loved BNL in high school, and this album -- their first since they dumped their label -- is their best work in ten years. Smart as ever, full of hooks, twists, and great producing.)

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