My favorite songs of the year (aka ‘the liner notes’)

IMG_2093

This year’s discs are already in the mailstream!

This is the 19th year in a row that I’ve assembled year-end music compilation CDs as presents for my friends. It’s also the first year that I didn’t include liner notes.

For one thing, I realized that I didn’t have a lot to say about some songs, other than “Yup, I liked this song.” There were a few tracks that I heard about all from the same place, and it felt weird to write that phrase over and over again, or to attempt to extract some new related tidbit of knowledge.

But I’d already started writing the notes, and I knew some people really liked them. My proof came this morning, when I handed my friend David his copies and the first thing he did was put on his glasses and open the cases to start reading. I had to bust in with an, “Oh, no — I didn’t do those this year” and watch his face fall.

Then I came up with a new plan: I’d put them online for reference. This way, when I make a reference to a YouTube video or a cool website, I can link straight to it — and links to the music videos for each song are here, too, for people who didn’t get a hard copy of the discs. (Or who did, but are interested in what the videos looked like. I spent few hours going through and watching them all, and it’s surprising how few I’d actually seen before year’s end.)

So, here goes. As always, the only rule for inclusion is that I must have downloaded the song during this calendar year. Many were released one or two years before I found out about them or finally decided to spring for the download — and for some reason or another, there’s usually one or two songs that are a decade or two old, too. Continue reading

Advertisements

Blowing past deadline

A few weeks ago I finished a big freelance assignment — at 1:45 a.m. Friday night/Saturday morning, and several days behind schedule.

Continue reading

I don’t want to have these issues anymore

I used to subscribe to a lot of magazines. Music, entertainment, literary, travel, fashion, beauty, design, automobiles … you name it, I probably had a subscription for at least a year.

Continue reading

I Am Curious (Fellow)

coverssss

“But … dentistry?” I still hear that a lot, when I tell people where I work nowadays.

I wouldn’t have called it, either. At first glance as an outsider, the topic seems insular and rote — all teeth, all the time. Not a lot of stuff to talk about, right?

If you go about it the wrong way, then yes, dentistry could be very boring. Just like anything could be when it’s not approached with interest and curiosity.

Pro baseball: Technically, 90% of your time is spent watching men just stand around … but that’s not what you pay attention to, the lulls between the frenzies.

Fashion: Every fall, stores are filled with brown boots, sweaters and jewel tones. Then, six months later­ …

FloralsForSpring

My point is that there’s some really fascinating stuff to write and read about in almost any subject, as long as you go digging and find the right people and topics.

Continue reading

When “sorry” doesn’t cut it


When’s the last time you apologized to someone?

I don’t mean a hasty “Sorry,” like if you forgot to hold the door for the person behind you or were a few minutes late meeting friends for dinner. I’m talking full-on apology — the first step toward making amends for a wrong you’ve committed, be it purposeful or inadvertent.

I had to do one a couple of weeks ago, and man it was difficult to execute! Every time I tried, I caught myself scuttling my own efforts.

Continue reading

Ismael Smith: The artist’s extraordinary life

 

 

(Photos via the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya.)

One of the temporary exhibits I walked through at the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya was dedicated to Ismael Smith, an illustrator and sculptor who began his career in Barcelona but died in an asylum in White Plains, NY, in the 1970s.

The biographical blurbs on the wall at “Ismael Smith: Beauty and Monsters” were so fascinating, I found myself snapping photos of the text just to make sure I remembered everything correctly. Ready to read about an extraordinary life?

Continue reading

Languished in “Drafts”: Going to the opera

joanne-drama

Every operatic diva.

I moved to Arizona to work for a weekly entertainment magazine, which is how I ended up seeing my first opera. And my second, and my third, and my fourth …

My attendance has waxed and waned over the years, but I’ve been regular enough that I’ve even seen some shows twice, with different casts and stagings. (Sometimes that’s not such a good thing: My first Carmen experience was so amazing, for example, that through no fault of its own the most recent show I went to was doomed to be a letdown in comparison.)

Continue reading