Wednesday, December 30, 2009

You can tell Paige has boy cousins...

"Dad, Great Grandma gave me a treat!"

"What was it?"

"A light saber."

That seemed like a strange present for an 85 year old lady to give a little girl. Then I saw the candy on the counter.

"Do you mean a lifesaver?"

"Yeah, a light saber."

Top Nine of '09

Here are some of my fav discs from the last year of the decade:

1. Phoenix - Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix.
The perfect mix of jangly guitars, fuzzy synths, and lo-fi grandeur. Just keeps getting better with repeated spins.

Phoenix - “1901″ [MP3]

2. Weezer - Raditude.
Weezer's best record since The Green Album. Perfectly poppy, with just enough punch.

Weezer- If You're Wondering if I Want You To

3. Matt & Kim - Grand. Rock 'n roll's smiliest couple grins from ear to ear as they pound their drums and keyboards. All attempts to refuse dancing are futile.

4. David Bazan - Curse Your Branches.
Former Pedro the Lion breaks up with God. Satan rewards him with the most compelling lyrics of his career.

5. Silversun Pickups - Swoon
. Everyone compares them to early '90s Smashing Pumpkins. I don't see the problem. Who didn't love Smashing Pumpkins back then?

6. Teenage Bottlerocket - They Came from the Shadows.
This Wyoming trio makes punk rock fun again, a la The Vandals, Screeching Weasel, or The Queers.

7. Telekinesis - Telekinesis!
This is the kind of indie rock that car commercials can't get enough of--oft soft, oft rockin', always about to be heartbroken.

Telekinesis - "Coast Of Carolina" [MP3]

8. Lily Allen - It's Not Me, It's You.
Ms. Allen is a spoiled brat celebrity, so much that's almost impossible to resist.

9. Dan Deacon- Bromst. This frenetic noise jumble may drive you batty, but if you can survive the insanity, it's a great ride.

And the Next Best Nine...

10. Say Hi - Oohs & Aahs
11. Strung Out - Agents of the Underground
12. Passion Pit - Manners
13. Left Alone - Left Alone
14. Iron & Wine - Around the Well
15. Bon Iver - Blood Bank
16. Banner Pilot - Collapser
17. Jimmy Eat World - Clarity Live
18. Prodigy - Invaders Must Die

Monday, December 28, 2009

Best of The Decade Coming Soon

I'm putting together a little Best of the 2000s list for IN. I figured I'd include 10 or maybe 20 of my favorite records of the decade. I wasn't too worried about choosing the "best" music, just the stuff that's meant the most to me. As I started browsing through my iTunes, the list quickly ballooned to over 50--and that was with me being picky. Anyhoo, I have to take a second to think through how I want to present it, but it should be ready soon. I think I'd forgotten how many albums I've fallen in love with in the past 10 years.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Nursery Blues

Why do I have the only kid in nursery who has to stand on his head during singing time and lead all the other kids to a head-standing revolution?

Thursday, December 24, 2009

How I Saved Christmas. Again?!

So, last year I saved Christmas. Unfortunately, the Christmas spirit didn't stick and, other than the neighbors across the street, we were the only ones in our circle to put up Christmas lights this year. However, there is one Christmas miracle worth noting.

For whatever reason, my parents bought all of us matching snowmen this year. Paige was, of course, ecstatic about this and asked me every day when I was going to put it up. I procrastinated and procrastinated until I was hammering in the last peg while the blizzard was approaching.

It didn't seem like it should be so complicated, but as the temperature dropped I was still fumbling with the cords and cursing at the pegs as two of them broke during assembly. Paige, my valiant helper, stood next to me the whole time, incessantly asking, "Is it ready, Dad? No, what about now? How 'bout now?"

Finally, the big moment came. I turned on the fan and watched the old guy inflate. It was to be so magnificent. But something wasn't quite right.

He was more of a hunchback than a proud snowman. Then he was leaning over. And then he tipped over completely.

The snow came and our little friend was soon buried under six inches of snow.

"Where's our snowman, Dad?" Paige asked everyday.

"He's just sleeping. Face down. Under a pile of snow."

I was beaten.

Or so it seemed.

With just a week until Christmas, I found my resolve. I dug old Frosty back up. (Putting a hole in his back in the process. But that's what duct tape is for.) After more hammering and a bit more cursing, the snowman was standing tall and proud.

Paige was pleased.

I was vindicated.

I saved Christmas. Again.

What Child is This?

Paige and I have been musical buddies for some time now. But Curtis, that's a different story. Last night I turned on the Nirvana Live at Reading DVD. He looked at it for a second and I could tell he was getting a little uneasy. He looked at me, looked at the TV, and then back to me again.


It's hard to resist those big eyes and that little voice.

We said goodbye to Kurt, Dave, and Chris and turned on Elmo.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Curtis Loves Christmas

Curtis clearly loved meeting Santa for the first time.

Christmas Music for Those Who Hate Christmas

If you cringe at the thought of going out in public during the holidays -- not because you hate throngs of people, just the horrible Christmas music -- I have good news. There is some holiday music out there that doesn't suck. It truly is a Christmas miracle!

Christmas Remixed:1 and 2 - Various Artists. Old classics by crooners like Andy Williams, Bing Crosby, and Dean Martin get remix treatment from Dan The Automator and friends. It doesn't take long for these old tunes to get old-school funky.

The OC Mix 3: Have a Very Merry Chrismukkah. Not only does this record include the best Christmas song of the past decade--"The Christmas Song" by The Raveonettes--it also proves that Wham's "Last Christmas" stops sucking when it's performed by Jimmy Eat World.

Maybe This Christmas: Volumes 1 - 3. The biggest indie stars of the mid-2000s--Death Cab, Coldplay, Pedro the Lion, and more--share their take on both traditional and original Christmas tunes. The auto-tune on Copeland's "Do You Hear What I Hear" sounded absolutely groundbreaking in 2004.

Songs for Christmas - Sufjan Stevens. This five-disc box set began as a yearly mixtape for Stevens' friends. Filled with both classics and his own songs, Sufjan's acoustic guitar, banjo, and sometimes full orchestra, make this an indie Christmas classic.

Oi to The World - The Vandals. Don't worry, Christmas haters. With hits like "A Gun for Christmas" and "Hang Myself from a Tree," The Vandals make sure that everyone has something to sing about during the holidays.

Like Father Like Son

Curtis takes after his old man. He's standing in front of the sink with his toothbrush in one hand and a potato chip in the other.

Monday, December 21, 2009

I'm in Love with Rihanna + This Week's Album Reviews

I'm in love with Rihanna (though I don't really like the new bowl cut she's rockin'). Not only is she gorgeous, but I can't get enough of her voice. Her chorus on Jay-Z's Run This Town is the best part of his new album and I still want to stand under her umbrella-ella-ella-ay.

I checked out her new album this week. It's okay-good, but after getting beat up by Chris Brown, she's more interested in making fight music than mega hits. Can't say I blame her.

Rihanna - Rated R
Miike Snow - Miike Snow
NOFX - Cokie the Clown

Friday, December 11, 2009

Dag Sinterklaasje, Dag, Dag Zwarte Piet

Every year I say I'm going to celebrate Sinterklaas, but then I end up being too lazy to actually do anything about it. But not this year. Sinterklaas officially made his first trip to the Sutherland home.

Sinterklaas is the Dutch precursor to our beloved Santa Claus. (Note: all of these details are likely incorrect, as I don't really know what I'm talking about.) He comes on a boat to Holland from Spain in early December with his little helper Zwarte Piet and then on December 5 he visits everyone's house, bringing presents for good little boys and girls.

What makes Sinterklaas better than Santa Claus is that instead of just giving naughty kids a lump of coal, Zwarte Piet smacks the bad kids with his chimney brush, shoves them in a bag and takes them away to Spain. (Which doesn't seem like such a bad thing in the middle of the winter.)

Anyhoo, though our festivities were meager, we managed to cobble together a few Dutch traditions for the big day.

Oh, the Oliebol

On Friday night, Traci found a recipe for oliebollen (direct translation: oil balls), a Dutch treat that's only available during holiday season. It's just a giant hunk of dough, fried up and dipped in powdered sugar.

We were wise to do our Fry Daddy-ing in the garage, as it certainly stunk up the joint. It was well worth it. Dee-licious.

Our Wooden-less Shoes

Little Dutch boys and girls put their wooden shoes by the chimney before they go to bed. Sinterklaas then comes down said chimney and fills the shoes with treats.

We have neither chimney nor wooden shoes in our home, but we did stick our Vans by the front door. We left some carrots and celery in Paige's shoes as a gift for Sinterklaas's horse. Paige found this strange, but participated nevertheless. She also wrote a brief, but poignant letter to the Sint (kort maar krachtig, hoor).

"Dear Santa. Love Paige."

Succes! Het is Gelukt!

Though we certainly didn't adhere to strict Sinterklass protocol, the Big Guy found still managed to find us. Come morning time, he had taken the vegetables for his horse and left a poem (in our handwriting) and a chocolate letter for each of the kids.

Paige seemed pleased that Sinterklaas had been to our house. Curtis was happy to walk around the house with a giant letter "C" hanging out of his mouth. I was happy that we now have a new family tradition for the 5th of December.

Piep, piep, hoera!

My Streaming Heart is Broken

Stupid Myspace ruins everything. I headed over to my fav music streaming site to post some tunes on the blog when I noticed something different. It wasn't there anymore. Instead, I was redirected to crappy Myspace. Apparently, Myspace has purchased imeem and is in the process of wrecking it.

So I'm now searching for a new streaming solution. is okay but I like to listen by album. Any suggestions?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Johnny Tightlips Receives Rave Review

We had band practice tonight for the first time in at least a month. (While I waited for Danny and Aaron to arrive, Curtis happily pounded away at the drums. He was very upset when the dudes showed up and I had to kick him out of the band. )

It felt good to pound through the setlist again. And we didn't sound quite as rusty as we'd expected. After we finished up, I asked Paige for some unbiased feedback.

"Paige, how did band practice sound tonight?"

She looked at me and then paused as she thought for a second, choosing her words carefully.

"Pretty cool."

Best. Compliment. Ever.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

More Record Reviews - Letting Up, Dashboard, Joshua James

Sooner or later I'll get back to blogging. Until then, here's this week's record reviews:

Letting Up Despite Great Faults - S/T (Highly recommended)
Dashboard Confessional - Alter the Ending
Joshua James - Build Me This

Letting Up - In Steps [MP3]

Monday, December 07, 2009

Thursday, December 03, 2009

The Charmer

We're watching our friends' two little girls. Curtis is impressing them with his fake burps. He's a real ladies' man.