Hits of the Year

The 10 Best Songs of 2007
This one goes to 11...

  1. "Scythian Empires," Andrew Bird, off Armchair Apocrypha. A sad and relevant song about impermance and war, featuring the long-gone horseback archers of the Russian steppes. Their Halliburton attaché cases are useless, while scotch guard Macintoshes shall be carbonized.
  2. "Minuet," by Ernest Ranglin and Baba Maal, a 1998 composition found on the soundtrack to The Future is Unwritten. A nine minute vacation in the sun by the Jamaican guitarist and the Senagalese singer -- carefree and lilting.
  3. "The Trouble with River Cities," Pela, from Anytown Graffiti. I ran into this song by accident on the internet, and was intrigued by its title. It reminds me (vocally) of the Fine Young Cannibals. Float like a sparrow, T-top Camaro. Is the wind done blowing you down?

  4. "Almost Everything is Boinga," The Backyardigans featuring Alicia Keys, as heard on the "Mission to Mars" episode of The Backyardigans (and a forthcoming 2008 record). Do your birds say boinga? No, our birds say tweet. Do you sit on your boinga? No, we sit on our seat.
  5. "1 2 3 4" as performed by Feist on the Late Show with David Letterman back in August. Every summer needs a song like this one. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 9 or 10: money can't buy you back the love that you had then.

  6. "Myriad Harbour," The New Pornographers, off Challengers.

  7. "Racing Day," The Backyardigans, from the episode "Racing Day" (and the record mentioned above). Racing Day, it's Racing Day. It's not self-effacing day, today is the day we race.

  8. "Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues," as performed by Ramblin' Jack Elliott and Calexico on the soundtrack to I'm Not There. Dylan's lyrics, Calexico's slide guitar and excelent instrumentation, and the shuffling lyrical style of the Brooklyn Cowboy. Sweet Melinda, the peasants call her the goddess of gloom. She speaks good English and she invites you up into her room.

  9. "Killing The Blues," as performed by Alison Krauss and Robert Plant, Raising Sand. A great John Prine song, and a strange but remarkable pairing of voices. Leaves were falling just like embers. In colors red and gold, they set us on fire...

  10. "It's Only Divine Right," a New Pornographers song recast in the yacht rock stylings of Michael McDonald.


Fun with Homonyms

As you may know, I'm accompanying 28 students of Business to Dublin and London for two weeks in January. The following true story will demonstrate how culturally unprepared I am.

Coworker: Have you gotten any Euros yet? (He led the trip last year, and means to suggest that I change money before the plane leaves for Dublin.)

Me: Gyros? Who has gyros? (I am from Milwaukee.)

Coworker: I got some from my bank.

Me: Your bank gives out gyros?

Coworker: They do, if they happen to have them. They're not always available, but if they have some on hand they'll give you some.

Me: What bank is this?

Coworker: I think pretty much any bank will do it, if they have them.

Me: You're talking about gyros? Like the Greek lamb sandwich?

Coworker: (Puzzled.)

Me: Oh -- Euros!

Coworker: What did you think I was talking about?

Me: I-- Oops, my phone is ringing. I better get that.

Coworker: I don't hear a phone...

In my defense, it was lunchtime.


Peace On Earth

Come, they told him, pa-rum-pa-rum-pum.


No Boyhood is Complete Without One

After the year's first visit with Santa, the boys received a gift from Mary and Jerry, who looked after them in their fourth and fifth months before they came home to us:  a Radio Flyer wagon, complete with a trunk, flip-up seats, seat belts, and drink holders.  We look forward to seeing all of our recent snow melt, so that we can give a run for its money on the Oak Leaf Trail.

By the way, "some assembly required" is code for "clear your Sunday afternoon schedule and have some bourbon at the ready."


Outside McHenry II

More pictures from Thanksgiving, with fond memories of the andouille sausage stuffing and the homemade jellied cranberry sauce:

1) Aunt Jean and cousin Alex -- I had to crop myself out of this photo due to crooked glasses and a generally slack-jawed countenance.  Alex is holding Sam's plastic baby calf, or as he's known around the house, Veal.
2) Caleb and Alex's dad, uncle Bin.
3) Aunts Maureen and Jane, up from Florida.  (By executive decree, I've decided that all adult relatives are uncles or aunts, and all smaller folk are cousins.  I don't have the processor capacity for "twice removeds" and such-in-laws.) Sam's expression here could turn a bad day for the better.
4) Grampa Jim and Caleb.

Outside McHenry

Some pictures from Thanksgiving in Northbrook, IL:
1) Caleb and his uncle Paul
2) Sam and cousin Becky
3) Four of the five youngest of an assembled 36 for dinner:  Caleb, Ainsley, Ian, and Sam, with Grandma Cathy.