Wednesday, January 31, 2007

John Mellencamp's Truck Song

I haven't listened to John Mellencamp's Freedom Road enough times to fully form an opinion, but so far it sounds great. Based on the song titles alone (The Americans, Forgiveness, Freedom's Road, Jim Crow, Our Country), the album is clearly intended to be a political statement, the exact nature of which is difficult to discern without a lyric sheet - and you have to head to his homepage for that.

There seems little doubt, however, that the song Our Country is intended to be an anthem in the mold of This Land Is Your Land. Which presents an interesting dilemma, because as anyone who watched any of NBC's Sunday Night Football from September through season's end knows, the song also served as the theme for the latest round of advertising for Chevy Trucks. And I don't mean they played it once or twice each game. They played it literally dozens of times, nearly every commercial break, to the point where in our household it became a joke. No matter where my youngest son would be at the moment it came on - upstairs, on the toilet, in his room - he would yell out, "is that Bruce Springsteen?"

In the latest issue of Rolling Stone, there's a short interview with Mellencamp where he defends selling the song to Chevy (I don't know any other way to put it). If I recall correctly, the gist of his argument is that he has no problem with the product being advertised, and the campaign exposed his work to an audience potentially larger than any he has reached before.

The problem is, especially with a song that's intended to be seen as so progressive, is that it no longer belongs to Mellencamp. By giving it up so early in the game, he has forfeited his right as an artist to define his work in a way that he sees fit, because no one who listens to this song will be able to avoid thinking about trucks. The song no longer matters; it is no more or less important than whatever music accompanies commercials for John Deere tractors or any other Chevy or Ford product.

Which is a shame, because it is a great song.

New Name

Given the number of other blogs with the title "Apropos of Nothing" and the fact that they all came before mine, I've belatedly decided to change the name of this one.

If that upsets my 3 fans, please accept my apologies.

In case anyone is wondering, the name comes from Bruce Springsteen's "Something in the Night," with the immortal lines:

I got stuff running 'round my head
That I just can't live down

Super Bowl Quiz: 2006

[Updated With Answers 2/1]

1. Match these Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks with the college for whom they played:

QB: Ken Stabler, Terry Bradshaw, Trent Dilfer, Bob Griese, Roger Staubach

College: Fresno State, Purdue, Alabama, Navy, Louisiana Tech

2. Name two quarterbacks who played at Notre Dame and won Super Bowls for their respective teams.

3. WHO AM I? In college, I was a second-string running back at the University of Nebraska, playing behind Heisman Trophy winner Mike Rozier. While Rozier struggled in the pros, I flourished - winning 3 Super Bowls, becoming a perennial All-Pro, and setting records for the number of receptions by a running back. In the off-season, I modeled underwear for the Macy’s Department Store chain. Who am I?

4. Who is the only player to win a Super Bowl MVP award that played for a team which lost the game:

a. Ed Marinaro, Minnesota Vikings
b. John Elway, Denver Broncos
c. Thurman Thomas, Buffalo Bills
d. Chuck Howley, Dallas Cowboys
e. Bubba Smith, Baltimore Colts

5. WHO AM I (inanimate object edition)? I hosted a Super Bowl in the 1980s, the only time the game was played on my grass and in my region. The game was played on a cool, drizzly day. During my illustrious career, I also hosted World Cup games, Olympic events, and NCAA Championship track & field events. In 2005, I was demolished and then reborn as a smaller, more modern stadium. Who am I?

6. Which one of these famous sports announcers has never called the play-by-play at a Super Bowl?

a. Curt Gowdy
b. Pat Summerall
c. Al Michaels
d. Bob Costas
e. Dick Enberg

7. WHO ARE WE? There are two of us. We played in the same conference in college. When one of us played, it had 8 teams; when the other played, it had expanded to 10. We each won a Heisman Trophy. We each won a Rose Bowl. We each won a Super Bowl. Who are we?

Bonus: Who meets the same criteria as we do, but won a Cotton Bowl instead of a Rose Bowl?

8. FOR THE EXPERTS (or weirdos, depending on your point of view): What do Tex Maule, Dan Jenkins, Mark Mulvoy, Paul Zimmerman, and Peter King have in common?


1. Stabler/Alabama; Bradshaw/Louisiana Tech; Dilfer/Fresno State; Griese/Purdue; Staubach/Navy

2. Joe Theismann and Joe Montana

3. Roger Craig, San Francisco 49ers

4. d. Chuck Howley, Dallas Cowboys

5. Stanford Stadium

6. d. Bob Costas

7. Jim Plunkett and Marcus Allen

8. They all wrote a Super Bowl cover story for Sports Illustrated.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Super Bowl Quiz: 2005

[Updated With Answers 1/30]

Every year I try to come up with a new Super Bowl Quiz. I'll be posting some of them this week; with answers following the next day. First up: the quiz from 2005.

1. What stadium which no longer exists hosted three Super Bowls?

2. Name four cities that have hosted Super Bowls in more than one stadium.

3. Credit for inventing the term “Super Bowl” is rightly given to:

a. Vince Lombardi’s gardener
b. Lamar Hunt’s daughter
c. Pete Rozelle’s accountant
d. Joe Namath’s bartender

4. When was the term “Super Bowl” first used, and what was the game called before that?

5. Which one of the following questions was asked during a Super Bowl Press Conference?

a. Could you tell me what that drink was that I saw you drinking last night?
b. Lemme get this straight. Is it blind mother, deaf father or the other way around?
c. Is it true that you think that Roger Staubach runs like a sissy?

6. If there is ever again a strike-shortened season, which team should you bet on to win the Super Bowl?

7. San Francisco 49ers Center Randy Cross told reporters after the team's last-second victory over Cincinnati in Super Bowl XXIII that he knew the 49ers would score on their final drive after Joe Montana looked up into the stands and said this to him as they came into the huddle to begin the drive:

a. See that stand right there? That’s where I’ll get my MVP trophy.
b. Boy, I’m glad that sun finally went down.
c. Can you believe the jacket that Bob Costas is wearing?
d. Hey, check it out – there’s John Candy!

8. In the 1983 film “Diner,” the wedding party wore the colors of this team, which later won a Super Bowl:

a. Washington Redskins
b. Baltimore Colts
c. Pittsburgh Steelers
d. Green Bay Packers

9. Super Bowl-winning coaches (and members of the Hall of Fame) Vince Lombardi and Tom Landry were the offensive and defensive assistants, respectively, for which team in the late 1950s?

10. What was unique about the television coverage of the very first Super Bowl?

11. Match the play-by-play announcer to the analyst with whom they broadcast at least one Super Bowl:

Play by Play: Dick Enberg, Curt Gowdy, Pat Summerall, Al Michaels
Color: Al De Rogatis, Boomer Esiason, Merlin Olsen, Tom Brookshier


1. Tulane Stadium, in New Orleans. Also hosted the Sugar Bowl prior to the opening of the Superdome in 1976.

2. There have been five: Los Angeles (L.A. Memorial Coliseum, Rose Bowl); Miami (Orange Bowl, Joe Robbie Stadium); Houston (Rice Stadium, Reliant Stadium); Tampa (Tampa Stadium, Raymond James Stadium); New Orleans (Tulane Stadium, Superdome).

3. Lamar Hunt’s daughter. Hunt was the owner of the Kansas City Chiefs.

4. Super Bowl III was the first which used the name “Super Bowl” in its promotion. The first two were known as “The NFL-AFL World Championship Game.”

5. The “blind mother, deaf father” question. Oakland Raiders quarterback Jim Plunkett was asked this.

6. Washington Redskins. They won both Super Bowls which completed a strike-shortened season.

7. Montana spied John Candy in the stands, and enthusiastically pointed him out to Cross, who figured that Joe must be pretty calm if he was noticing things like that.

8. In “Diner,”the bridesmaids wore the blue and white of the Baltimore Colts.

9. Lombardi and Landry were the assistants for the New York Giants.

10. It was carried by two networks: CBS and NBC.

11. Enberg and Olsen; Gowdy and DeRogatis; Summerall and Brookshier; Michaels and Esiason.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

A Blog To Die For

Now here's a blog that's right up my alley: AwfulAnnouncing, the work of an "average 20-something bitter human being...into sports all of his life...been making fun of them and their announcers just as long."

What a gold mine of material to work with; the possibilities are virtually endless. Particularly enjoyable at the moment: this post on Dick Vitale.

Yes, They Do Grow Up

I've probably mentioned before that I think James Lileks (see link at right) is a genius; in today's Bleat, he absolutely nails the phenomenon that is a parent dealing with the reality of a child who is growing up (following a typically amusing story about his most recent encounter with the "blueshirts" at Best Buy). What triggers it for Lileks is Gnat giving away some of her old computer games that are now "boring," but I'm sure that every parent has a similar story. For me, it is remembering the utter delight on my oldest son's face every time he would encounter a new product (book, toy, shampoo, you name it) having anything to do with Thomas the Tank Engine. At the time that those moments are happening, you think they are going to go on forever. And then they don't - and then later, at some point when they cross your mind, it actually hurts to remember them - because they're never coming back.

Which is not to say that enjoying "The Departed" with a couple of teenagers can't also be an enjoyable experience.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

An Early Prediction

Colts 38, Bears 21.

Sure, Reggie Bush may have fired up the Bears with his sophomoric display at the end of his otherwise magnificent 88-yard touchdown reception. And yes, we're bound to hear two weeks of "Bears play better with a chip on their shoulder; we don't get no respect" nonsense. And while history tells us that anything can happen in the big game, it's hard to imagine - in this year of utter domination by the AFC - that there could be any other outcome.

But should the Bears pull it off, it will definitely be a story - the worst quarterback to lead his team to a Super Bowl in NFL history prevailing over the best quarterback of his generation. Who knows, it could happen - but it's not likely.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007


Jeff Tedford has signed an extension of his contract and will remain Coach of the California Golden Bears through at least 2013.


How important has Tedford been to Cal's football program? Let us count the ways:

The Bears have reached the top 10 in three straight seasons while appearing in four consecutive bowl games -- winning three -- for the first time in school history. Cal's share of the Pac-10 crown this season was its first conference title since 1975, and Tedford also has beaten archrival Stanford five straight times.

Will the Bears ever win the BCS? Perhaps not. Can Old Blues live with being perennial Pac-10 contenders? I suspect they can.

Monday, January 15, 2007

A Baker's Dozen Plus One: Albums of 2006

1 - Modern Times, Bob Dylan
2 - Black Cadillac, Rosanne Cash
3 - Songs For Christmas, Sufjan Stevens
4 - Love, The Beatles
5 - The Seeger Sessions, Bruce Springsteen
6 - American V: A Hundred Highways, Johnny Cash
7 - The Town and The City, Los Lobos
8 - One Day It Will Please Us To Remember Even This, New York Dolls
9 - The Information, Beck
10 - Living With War, Neil Young

Honorable Mention: Dixie Chicks' Taking The Long Way, Tom Petty's Highway Companion, Pearl Jam, Prince's 3121

Random Notes

- How is it that Bob Dylan can record three consecutive masterpieces after not having released a single album of original tunes between 1976 and 1997 which came close to deserving that label? While it may be one of the enduring mysteries of the rock 'n roll era, I'm sure that the answer is there somewhere within the recesses of Dylan's brain. A partial answer may be found in Chronicles Vol. I, his idiosyncratic but highly entertaining autobiography - for whatever reason he lost his inspiration, and while there were great songs in that 21-year period, there was nothing that, in and of itself, would justify his claim as the greatest American rock and roller, aside from Elvis himself. On Modern Times, Dylan demonstrates clearly that he has mastered American popular music from 1930 on - 30s pop, blues shuffles, all-out rockers - he nails them all.

- Rosanne Cash's tribute to her late parents is her best album; deeply affecting and brilliantly recorded.

- Sufjan Stevens may not hit the right notes on every song, but his 5-CD set (a compilation of home recordings made as Christmas presents for friends and family) never wavers in its spirit. The best pop Christmas album since We Three Kings by The Roches was released in 1990.

- Love is not only a heartfelt tribute to The Beatles, it is proof positive of George Martin's brilliance as a producer. Even if you own every single one of these songs, this is a must-have.

- As previously noted, The Seeger Sessions is the sound of a great artist having fun, and sometimes making great art in the process.

- It's time to make room on Mt. Rushmore for Johnny Cash.

- The depth and breadth of Los Lobos' work over a 25-year period is astonishing, and this was one of their best. From the playfullness of "A Dog And A Bone" to the social commentary of much of the album, an exquisite example of a band of true professionals at their best.

- New York Dolls? Are you kidding me? Yes, there is life in David Johansen.

- Is Beck's work authentic? Does it really matter?

- Whether you agree with his politics or not, Neil Young deserves credit for trying. And the guitars sizzle.

Be Kind If You Run Into A Chargers Fan

When you're a big fan of a sports team, there will be games that frustrate you, games that anger you, and games that just plain piss you off.

And then there are the kind of games that eat away inside at you; that occupy your dreams; that ruin your sleep. For Chargers fans, yesterday's loss to New England is probably that kind of game.

Just as 49ers fans will never forget Roger Craig's fumble against the New York Giants in the 1991 NFC Championship and Sacramento Kings fans will never forget Robert Horry's dagger-to-the-heart buzzer beater to win Game 4 of the NBA Western Conference Finals in 2002, Chargers fans will never stop wondering - for the rest of their lives - what might have happened had their team held on to that interception.

So if you run into a Chargers fan today, be kind.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Ahmet Ertegun

I'm a little late...but this post is a great tribute to Ahmet Ertegun, truly one of the great figures of the past fifty years in the music industry.

As Dave Marsh writes,

So the man wasn't perfect. But the music is. In the greatest era of American music that has ever been, Ahmet Ertegun took his passion and brought that music into the world-the whole world, not just black America, not just America, for that matter--and showed the rest of us how great it could be. The music lasted. So should his memory.

Rex Grossman Is Terrible

Not surprisingly, Rex Grossman is playing another lousy game at quarterback for the Chicago Bears, who have just fallen behind the Seahawks 24-21 late in the 3rd quarter in their divisional playoff tilt. The Bears certainly have the ability to bounce back, but if Grossman ends up costing them this game, it is going to be one excruciatingly long off-season for Coach Lovie Smith, one that will likely set new standards for second-guessing.

Also on the NFL front...if you had sat down and come up with the unlikeliest headlines to appear after the first two weeks of the playoffs, "Colts Defense Leads Team to Consecutive Wins" would probably have been at the top. And after yesterday, can anyone really question that the acquisition of Adam Vinatieri was the second-most significant personnel move of the off-season?

The most significant, of course, being the Saints' decision to acquire Drew Brees. In time, that may turn out to be one of the most important personnel moves in NFL history, changing the destinies of 3 NFL teams: the Saints; the Chargers, who then had the ability to test Philip Rivers as their starter; and Miami, who opted to go for Daunte Culpepper instead of Brees, ultimately leading to a series of events that resulted in Nick Saban heading to Alabama.

The Saints' entertaining win over Philadelphia continues the feel-good story of the year. Regardless of whether the Bears win today or not, there's no question that the Saints have the ability, in this year where every playoff team is flawed, to go all the way. If that happens, we may know the winner of Sports Illustrated's "Sportsman of the Year" by the end of the first weekend in February.

UPDATE: Grossman actually doing well in next drive...

UPDATE #2: Bears win in OT, but Grossman is still a scary player...

Ebert On The Original "Hitcher"

Anyone watching the NFL playoffs this weekend has been subjected to a heavy dose of advertising for the remake of "The Hitcher" which opens next weekend.

I seemed to recall that Roger Ebert detested the original, and fortunately I keep a copy of the 1987 edition of his Movie Home Companion around for just such occasions. Sure enough, he gave it No Stars, something he doesn't do very often. Some of Ebert's best writing comes when he gets really angry, which he obviously was after viewing the film, which starred C. Thomas Howell - whatever happened to him? - and Rutger Hauer:

I could see the the film was meant as an allegory, not a documentary. But on its own terms, the movie is diseased and corrupt. I would have admired it more if it had found the courage to acknowledge the real relationship it was portraying between Howell and Rutger, but no: It prefers to disguise itself as a violent thriller, and on that level it is reprehensible.

"Diseased and corrupt" - well, one can certainly see why Hollywood was clamoring to remake this one!

Friday, January 12, 2007

Baby, It's Cold Outside

All right, so we may be wimpy Californians, but it's not every day that Sacramento sees low temperatures diving into the low 20s, which is what we're looking at for the duration of the weekend. And with a nice, stiff north wind blowing, the wind chill will get even lower than that.

So it's not Minnesota or Wisconsin. But with a high last July of 112 and now lows in the low 20s, there can't be too many places in the country with a temperature range as impressive as that.

Great Books #4

A Prayer for Owen Meany
by John Irving

“I am doomed to remember a boy with a wrecked voice.” A Prayer for Owen Meany begins with those words from narrator John Wheelwright, who then goes on to say, “…not because of his voice, or because he was the smallest person I ever knew, or even because he was the instrument of my mother’s death, but because he is the reason I believe in God; I am a Christian because of Owen Meany.” And with that introduction, Irving provides the framework for A Prayer for Owen Meany, a story of faith and the role that it –and fate – play in our everyday lives.

Not that Owen Meany could be accused of having an everyday life. Very early on, his extraordinary nature becomes apparent – upon their first meeting, John’s cousin Hester proclaims, “I didn’t think he was human!” And it isn’t every day that you accidentally kill your best friend’s mother by hitting a foul ball during a little league baseball game (“Who would have thought he could hit a ball hard enough?,” John’s cousin Simon asks). Not long after this tragedy Owen – who is 11 years old at the time –learns his fate when he sees a vision of his own death while portraying The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come during a production of A Christmas Carol.

One way to look at the book is to say that, armed with the foreknowledge of his own death, Owen’s life from that point on becomes a series of events which prepare him for that day. Owen believes he is God’s instrument, and over time he comes to know so much about his death – through a series of increasingly detailed dreams – that it becomes easy to ascribe that motive to all of his actions and decisions. Is the book, then, Irving’s attack on faith? Does Irving believe that those who ascribe “God’s will” to all things under the sun are fools? After all, John Wheelwright, who finds his own faith through what happens to Owen, is not a happy man, somehow incomplete and even damaged without the presence of his best friend. Or, is Owen’s story Irving’s way of saying that only through faith can our lives have any real meaning? The book does not resolve this question, but my view would be toward the latter proposition.

In the end, the strength of Irving’s writing is such that such questions become secondary to the power of the story itself. And it is a wonderful story; wonderfully told, at turns hilarious, moving, and emotionally shattering. Owen’s words, all written IN CAPITAL LETTERS, are memorable whether he is talking about John F. Kennedy, Liberace, the increasing horror of the Vietnam War, which of the town’s mothers have THE BEST BREASTS, or engaging John Wheelwright in a conversation about faith and the power of prayer. Owen gets most of the best lines, but as with many of his works, Irving is generous with his supporting cast – providing memorable moments to John’s family, creating a memorable villain in Randy White who rivals Garp’s Michael Milton, and investing much time in making John Wheelwright a believable and worthy narrator (playing the perennial doubter to Owen’s true believer).

As he has proven in many of his works, Irving’s gift is his ability to find meaning in the ridiculous (or the absurd). And while that may sound like a disrespectful way to treat one’s faith, one cannot really question that what happens to Owen is absurd. But it happens, and in a believable way, and therein lies the power of A Prayer for Owen Meany.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Cal, Tony, Mark and the Hall

There were no big surprises in the announcement on Tuesday of this year's Hall of Fame inductees: Cal Ripken, Jr. and Tony Gwynn. Two marvelous players, among the very few great players who spent their entire careers with one team. Their play, their demeanor, and their approach to the game put the lie to the constant harping from fans and critics alike during the 1980s and 1990s that things were somehow better during a mythical "good old days" which, in fact, never existed.

Of course, the other big story was the exclusion of Mark McGwire, and his terribly poor showing in his first year of eligibility. And here is where things start to get really tricky: while there were a few writers who had the audacity to claim that they didn't vote for McGwire because his statistics didn't merit a selection, that's a pretty ridiculous argument - we all knew that someday a 500 home run hitter might get excluded, but 583 dingers is a pretty high standard in any book. I don't think there's any doubt that it all boils down to the steroids. In all likelihood most voters simply decided that, without them, McGwire never would have come close to having numbers that would make him a legitimate Hall-of-Famer. And they're probably right.

The acid test, of course, will be Barry Bonds. If you accept that he probably began taking steroids in the late 1990s, you also have to accept the fact that had his career ended in 1998 due to injury, he would have breezed into the Hall, with 3 MVP awards to his credit. Will the combination of chemical enhancement and boorish behavior keep him out? Only time will tell, but one thing for certain is that whatever happens, we're due for a lot of moralizing on both sides of the issue.

The Google Years

The Associated Press reports that California's current favorable budget position is due in large part to the amazing success of Google:

After cashing in more than 9 million shares valued at $3.7 billion last year, 16 Google employees will owe the Golden State as much as $380 million in taxes — enough to cover the salaries of more than 3,000 state workers.

Taxes paid by Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page account for nearly half the amount. There is virtually no way for them or other California billionaires to escape a 9.3 percent state capital gains tax or a recent voter-approved 1 percent tax on the wealthy to underwrite the state’s mental health programs.

“On behalf of a grateful state, I’ll be happy to wash their windows or mow their lawn,” said H.D. Palmer, spokesman for California’s Department of Finance.

Of course, California has been here before, in the late 1990s with the high-tech stock boom. That went south shortly after the new millennium began, ultimately costing Gray Davis his job and resulting in the election of Arnold Schwarzenegger, who now stands to benefit from this latest boom. Only time will tell whether Schwarzenegger can resist the clarion call of spending from the state Legislature that essentially doomed Gray Davis.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007


A great post by Todd VanDerWerff on 24, which arrives in just five more days. Even though he expresses some concern about the initial direction of Season 6, the following passage makes it clear that, once again, the ride will be worthwhile:

Yet two moments at the tail end are so legitimately shocking that they seem to kick the whole season into gear. The first is a plot twist, arrived at via barely-motivated plot machinations but carried out with ruthless efficiency; the second is a moment of absolute terror, played with the requisite gravitas. Together, these incidents encapsulate what the series does best: kinetic melodrama and political exploitation. The two go hand-in-hand.

My family and I were latecomers to the 24 party. For reasons that are long forgotten, we didn't even bother to take a look at Seasons 1-3 (although we later watched Season 1 on DVD), and it was only when my teenage son insisted that I watch 15 minutes of an episode during Season 4 that I got hooked. That's all it took, and we haven't missed an episode since. As crazy and illogical as the plots may be, there really has never been anything quite like it on television - and there probably never will be.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Happy Birthday, Elvis

Happy birthday, Elvis
You're not really dead
It's a lie, it's just a crock,
Something some people said
I heard a cassette of you speaking
On a telephone
From a bunker beneath Graceland
The king sits on his throne

"Happy Birthday, Elvis"
Loudon Wainwright III

The last time I saw Elvis
He was fronting a three-piece band
Rocking on the back of a flatbed truck
With an old guitar in his hand
He was the King

"He Was The King"
Neil Young

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Life Imitates Art

Gosh, I wonder what Jerry Jones is going to do with all of those barrels of anointing oil now?

The end of last night's Dallas-Seattle game was eerily similar to the end of the game in the film of North Dallas Forty. In the movie, the team had just scored a touchdown that would have tied the game, but the bible-thumping, straitlaced backup quarterback muffed the extra point snap and everyone went into the locker room nice and angry - leading to a nice scene where the late John Matuszak, essentially playing himself, got to scream with gusto at one of the assistant coaches.

Right after Thanksgiving, Dallas looked like the best team in the NFC, but for some reason the wheels just fell off in December. They played much better last night, but now head into the off-season facing the realization that the Seahawks did not win that game; the Cowboys lost it.

As much as I despise Dallas, you have to feel for Tony Romo. I imagine this will wake him up at nights many times between now and the first kickoff next fall.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Enough Already II

Like an idiot, I stayed up last night to watch Letterman's interview with Donald Trump. It took less than 30 seconds for Trump to label Rosie O'Donnell a degenerate, and he ran with the ball from there. If there is a person in America right now who is more egotistical and insufferable than Trump, I'd be surprised. And here's hoping that O'Donnell gets over her case of Michael Moore disease sometime in 2007 (for those unfamiliar with it, Moore Disease takes hold when a celebrity begins to suffer from the delusion that every utterance coming from their mouth is important and/or newsworthy).

At this point I'm so sick of the entire Trump/O'Donnell affair that the latest news about Paris, Britney and Lindsey (it's sure to come soon) will seem like a breath of fresh air.

Enough Already

I've been watching the Colts-Chiefs game on NBC for less than 15 minutes, and already I've heard John Mellencamp's "This Is Our Country" commercial THREE TIMES. I like Mellencamp, but this is ridiculous - they've played the damn song at least 200 times since the start of the season. Give it a rest.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Ringing In 2007

In two days at work my email count managed to top 350, and the Christmas tree is coming down tomorrow, which must mean that the holidays are officially over. My grand plans for blogging in December, which as originally envisioned would have resulted in at least a dozen entries in the "Great Christmas albums" category, went astray for a variety of reasons. Oh well - something to shoot for next year.

I'll be writing more about it later, but the best Christmas album I bought in 2006 (and one of the best albums I bought, period) was Sufjan Stevens' Songs For Christmas, a 5-CD set collecting the homemade CDs that Stevens created over a period of 6 years to give to family and friends as Christmas gifts. Combining traditional holiday tunes with quirky originals (with titles like Did I Make You Cry on Christmas Day? (Well You Deserved It!) and Come On! Let's Boogie To The Elf Dance!), it blew me away, and is probably the best Christmas album released by a contemporary artist since The Roches' We Three Kings in 1990.

The best album I bought in 2006 (a complete Top Ten list is forthcoming) was Bob Dylan's Modern Times, his third consecutive masterpiece. Rosanne Cash's Black Cadillac was a close second, and how it managed to be left off of Rolling Stone's 50 Best Albums of 2006 list is beyond me. The song that will always remind me of 2006 was "Crazy," by Gnarls Barkley.

The best books I read in 2006 were Kate Atkinson's Case Histories, Joan Didion's The Year of Magical Thinking, and Michael Connelly's Echo Park.

The best movie I saw for the first time in 2006 was the 2005 version of Pride and Prejudice, featuring a luminous performance by Keira Knightley as Elizabeth Bennett.

Resolutions for 2007? None in particular, but here's hoping that there will be more time to put something up on here that at least a few folks find interesting.

Happy New Year!