Monday, December 22, 2008

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Genuine. and I were both really excited to head home today. We've been looking forward to it for months, each of us. However, Portland, OR has been in the icy grip of a brutal winter storm for some time, so we were worried that our flight wouldn't be able to make it. Surprise - our flight was cancelled, along with every other flight in or out of Portland until Christmas afternoon. Kind of an unpleasant realization, but hey, that's the way it goes sometimes.

So we're spending our first Christmas together huddled inside around our four-foot tree, wishing we were at home. Welcome to adulthood.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

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Normally, I do a best CDs of the year list around this time, but since I only really bought one CD released this year (by Vampire Weekend, and every moment you spend not listening to is it a moment forever wasted), I decided to do something different. I was thinking today that my car's CD holder has ten spots (not a CD changer, but the thing you put on your visor), so logically, I can hold ten of my favorite CDs when I drive.

The question is, if I could only ever put ten albums there, which ten would I choose?

It's a difficult question for someone who loves music like me, and especially someone with as varied tastes as I have. (Who am I kidding here? They're all indie albums.) I thought about it for a while longer, and arrived at the (slightly annotated) following ten albums:

  • OK Computer, Radiohead. Perhaps the most complete album I own. It's also one of the first albums I bought with my own money, and it hasn't let me down. (Try topping that, Soundtrack from The Saint.) One of the most bonechilling moments in my life was watching 10,000 people hold up lighters during an encore performance of "Exit Music (for a film)".
  • Funeral, The Arcade Fire. The Arcade Fire were the group that, more than any other, helped me make the transition from the indie music of 1997 to the indie music of today. I could listen to "Laika" and "Rebellion (Lies)" for the rest of my life.
  • Flood, They Might Be Giants. Fun, light, and perfect. Anyone who was a child of the '90s remembers "Particle Man" from Tiny Toons. Anyone who doesn't is lying.
  • Fisherman's Woman, Emiliana Torrini. Part of the reason I love this so much is from seeing lanada's reactions to it over a period of months, but most of it is from the heartfelt earnestness of songs like "Thinking Out Loud". Her first album leans too much toward electronica, and her third leans too much toward pop, but in the middle lies this tranquil, folksy record. (Caution: do not listen while operating heavy machinery.)
  • Come on Feel the Illinoise!, Sufjan Stevens. I know, we all remember "Chicago" from Little Miss Sunshine, but the entirety of the album is that good. I've only ever really driven across the state from St. Louis to Bloomington, but if the state is as beautiful as this album, then I'll start going house shopping today.
  • Kid A, Radiohead. Of course, Radiohead gets two spots on this list. Kid A, more than anything else I own, is meant to be listened to in one go. I usually think of it as the Kid A suite more than anything else. It's dark, morose, mournful, and stunningly beautiful at its core. Could there be a better song than "How to Disappear Completely"?
  • Loveless, My Bloody Valentine. Of course there is - it's "Sometimes". I listened to this song for an hour straight when I was trapped in the Las Vegas airport, miserable and pining for Genuine. even though we'd only been dating for a couple of weeks. Also, the rest of the album is fantastic.
  • Ys, Joanna Newsom. I know most of you out there familiar with Ms. Newsom's work think of her as a gimmicky weird voice and a harp. I assure you, there's so much more here. The average track length on Ys is nearly ten minutes, but the complex, looping structure of her songs draw you in and make it feel like only two or three. And of course, there's the textbook-length "Emily" that makes rock operas seem like couplets by comparison.
  • In the Aeroplane Over the Sea, Neutral Milk Hotel. Ah, Jeff Mangum. It's a pity he has so many demons to deal with, but it's almost worth it if he can produce songs like "Two-Headed Boy" and "Ghost". Eclectic and strange - the album features dozens of out of tune trumpets and a singing saw - this album is the 1990s at their best.
  • Weezer, Weezer. Oh, right. You can't really mention the best of the 1990s without bringing this up. I was once in a car where "No One Else" was playing, and the female driver refused to believe that men really think this way. My roommate and I just nodded our heads. Also, it's impossible to leave out an album that my entire generation can sing along to from start to finish.
Then again, those are just my ideas. Anything you think I should have included? What albums go on your top ten? (Remember, dear readers, Rascal Flats have no place on this blog. Be gone, demons.)

Monday, December 08, 2008

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I guess this comes along with getting married and having to enter the world of being a responsible adult, but this is just something I need to share with everyone. It's exciting! It's engaging! It's absolutely stupendous! It's...


I know, I know, let's all get a hold of ourselves here. There's a website I was introduced to (courtesy of Slate, another fine and informative site) called Mint, which can keep track of financial information for you. Ever wondered how much money you spend each month on fast food? Once you enter your banking information (don't worry, it's secure), Mint can break that down for you. It can keep track of loans you have, as well as mutual funds. Looking for ways to save? Once it has enough of your purchases categorized, Mint can make those recommendations for you. It can help you set up a budget and send you email alerts if you go over your limit. It has fancy looking graphs that show how much you spend on each category.

I'm absolutely agog over this. It helps me keep myself honest and responsible when I make purchases. It keeps everything in one place. It even calculates my net worth, which isn't especially pretty right now, but probably could be one day. You really ought to check it out. I don't make recommendations like this often, so you know that when I do, it carries some weight. Hopefully.

Seriously, stop reading this and go check it out. You'll thank yourself for it.

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A list of increasingly inappropriate foods to bring to church:

  • Cheerios
  • Fruit snacks
  • Crackers
  • Peanuts, dry roasted
  • Pretzels
  • Chocolate chip cookies
  • Peanuts, honey roasted
  • Ham sandwiches
  • Slices of cake
  • Salads
  • Doritos/Cheetos
  • Bananas/oranges
  • Cans of Diet Coke
  • Cans of Diet Coke with cups of ice
  • Apples
  • Chicken drumsticks
  • Swedish meatballs
  • Buffalo wings
  • Little Caesar's pizzas
  • Turkey dinners
  • Roast pigs on a spit
  • Whole watermelons
Guess how many of these I've actually seen in church? (hint: 10)