Thursday, January 31, 2008

Best Of 2007

So here it is. Rather belated, yes I know, but we’ve been very busy traveling around Europe and such. Below is a fairly comprehensive list of what we consider to be the “Best-Of” list for 2007:

Top 5 Musical Releases:

Maylene And The Sons Of Disaster – II

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This release has been in very regular rotation, to include me learning to play most of the songs on guitar. If you’re new to Maylene, they play a sort-of hard, raw southern-rock-meets-metal; extremely catchy and extremely head bangable. Highly recommended for driving down country dirt roads at 90 with all the windows down and the volume turned up to 11.
Standout tracks: “Memories of the Grove”, “Plenty Strong and Plenty Wrong”, “Darkest of Kin”, and “Raised by the Tide”.

Over The Rhine – The Trumpet Child

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We liked this one so much we bought it on plastic, vinyl, poster, and t-shirt. Beautiful album, wonderful songs of life and love, and as I always say, I have no idea why this husband-wife duo aren’t huge.
Standout tracks: “Trouble”, “I’m on a Roll”, “Let’s Spend the Day in Bed”, and “Desperate For Love”.

Misericordiam – Unanimity and the Cessation of Hostility

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As you might have guessed by the band name, these guys play death metal, and the mere six songs contained therein are not only the heaviest/tightest I’ve heard all year, but also they rank in the top ten best of all time. Which is saying a lot for such a saturated, talent-critical genre. Hailing from Las Vegas, Misericordiam absolutely pummel from beginning to end and, as far as I know, all four members are under 20. Recommended if you like Beneath The Massacre, Despised Icon, Carnifex or Job For A Cowboy.
Standout tracks: All

The White Stripes – Icky Thump

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I credit my friend Andrew Exum for getting me into The White Stripes back in 2002 when we were in the Army together. I credit myself for getting him into Sleater-Kinney, but that’s another story.
I’ll have to admit; I didn’t really care for the Stripes at first, as their earlier works were a bit rough around the edges. Icky Thump is just a great, all around record. A perfect follow-up to 2005’s impressive Get Behind Me Satan, Icky Thump starts right in with the title track, what I would consider to be the best on the record, and also a rather funny music video. The songs are varied from rock to blues to what I would term, a 'romping-bull-fighter’s-post-fight-anthem (see “Conquest”)'.
Standout tracks: “Icky Thump”, “You Don’t Know What Love Is”, “Prickly Thorn But Sweetly Worn”, and “Catch Hell Blues”.

The Innocence Mission – We Walked In Song

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I think every single one of The Innocence Mission’s albums are classics, and they’ve done it once again with this year’s release. Karin Peris has a voice like non other and Don Peris’ effortless compositions offer the perfect accompanying sound track, making for a truly beautiful thing that has to be heard.
Standout tracks: “Brotherhood of Man”, “BRCD939”, “Into Brooklyn, Early in the Morning”, “Song For Tom”, and “Since I Still Tell You my Every Day”.

Honorable Mentions (alphabetical):

All Star United – Love and Radiation
Nicole Atkins – Neptune City
Beneath The Massacre – Mechanics of Dysfunction
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club – Baby 81
Blindside – The Black Rose
Carnifex – Dead In My Arms
Castanets – In The Vines
Cold War Kids – Robbers and Cowards
Steven Delopoulos – Work To Be Done
Delta Spirit – I Think I’ve Found It
Demon Hunter – Storm The Gates Of Hell
Despised Icon – The Ills of Modern Man
DJ Micro – Past Present Future, Vol. 2
Gasoline Heart – What Now
GRITS – Redemption
Hem – Home Again, Home Again
Impending Doom – Nailed.Dead.Risen
Iron & Wine – The Shepherd’s Dog
Solomon Jabby – Firmly Planted
Leng Tch’e – Merasmus
Limbeck – Limbeck
Lovedrug – Everything Starts Where It Ends
Mad Caddies – Keep It Going
Main Line Riders – Shot In The Dark
Mamady Keita – Mandeng Djara
Sarah Masen – A History of Light And Shadow
Sarah Masen – Women’s Work Is Alchemy
Sarah Masen – Magic That Works
Matt Death and the New Intellectuals – Demo 2007
Sophie Milman – Make Someone Happy
Mirror Of Dead Faces – Demo 2007
MxPx – Secret Weapon
Oblige – Expectants
Over The Rhine – Live From Nowhere, Vol. II
Oh Sleeper – When I Am God
Elvis Perkins – Ash Wednesday
Peter And The Wolf – The Ivori Palms
Psyopus – Our Puzzling Encounters Considered
Rilo Kiley – Under the Blacklight
Sotahuuto РIhmisen Jälki
The Arcade Fire – Neon Bible
The Dillinger Escape Plan – Ire Works
The Dingees – Planet X Mix
The Famine – Demo 2007
The Showdown – Temptation Come My Way
Rosie Thomas – These Friends of Mine
Toby Mac – Portable Sounds
Tony Danza Tapdance Extravaganza – Danza II – The Electric Boogaloo
Jason Truby – Waiting On the Wind
Tumbledown – 3 Songs
Virgin Black – Requim – Mezzo Forte
Patricia Vonne – Firebird
Zikrayat – Live At Lotus

Favorite Christmas Albums (purchased, though not necessarily released in 2007):

Nat King Cole –
The Christmas Song
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Josh Groban – Noel
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Don Peris – Brighter Visions Beam Afar

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Veggie Tales – The Incredible Singing Christmas Tree

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Anticipated 2008 Releases:

Marcus Aurelius – Requiem of An Empire
Eluveitie – Slania
Exhale – Untitled
From A Second Story Window – Conversations
Good Night, States – Short Films on Self-Control
Michael Gulezian – Untitled
Impellitteri – Good And Evil
Jet – Untitled
Matisyahu – Untitled
Over The Rhine – Live From Nowhere, Vol. III
P.O.D. – When Angels And Serpents Dance
Society’s Finest – Untitled
Spitfire – Cult Fiction
The Famine – Untitled
The Von Bondies – Love, Hate and Then There’s You
Thieves And Liars – When Dreams Become Reality
Virgin Black – Requiem – Fortissimo

Favorite Movies of 2007:


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Knocked Up

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The Bourne Ultimatum

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Favorite Books from 2007:

Everything Must Change: Jesus, Global Crises and a Revolution of Hope, by Brian Mclaren

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Playing For Pizza
, by John Grisham

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They Like Jesus But Not The Church: Insights From Emerging Generations
, by Dan Kimball

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Monday, January 28, 2008

Lavellla plays with yarn

Most of you who know me have seen me knitting a time or two, right?
Noro Kureyon Sock

Well it seems that someone else has noticed as well.
"Is this what you do with these cable needles?"

"I will knit these for you"

"I love Noro, Mommy!"
Taking the sock to play
(She actually crawled around with this sock for a good while, and now whenever I wear them she wants me to take them off so that she can have them.)

Yesterday, I left the room for about 30 seconds and came back to find this:
The Yarn Theif strikes again

The boys love to sit in my lap while I spin (wool into yarn), and each have their own pair of knitting needles stuck into a ball of wool so that they can "knit" next to me. Now if their tiny hands can just get coordinated enough to actually make the stitches...

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Fun in the snow: Switzerland

Greg had 4 days off this past weekend, so we headed off to Switzerland to play in the snow. (To skip this post and go straight to the entire album, click here. The photos in this post are just a few selected from the many.)

Cast of characters:
Cast of Characters
Riding up in the cable car or "gondola" made my stomach lurch. I'm really not a huge fan of heights. Or speed. Or snow. Ah well, Swiss Alps, here we come.

At the top of this particular mountain is a daycare/childcare where you can leave your smallest members for 11 Franks an hour (about $8 USD). Lavella was cool with this arrangement.
Daisy eating, being amused by the boys across the table

Then we rented two sleds. Greg took Andrew on one, and Elijah and I got on the other.
Max and me
Some of the slopes were pretty steep, and the only breaks for the sled are the boots of the person sitting on it.

Mr and Sparky
At night, whenever I closed my eyes to sleep, all that I could see was the edge of the trail, and imagined Elijah and myself hurtling off of it.

The view was fantastic though.
Self-portrait on the mountainside

There were some snowmen built,
The boys who built the snowman

we watched parachuters land,
More people strapped to a parachute
and had a pretty great time. There was one unfortunate incident in which Elijah and I took a wrong turn and ended up having to sled down the entire mountain, but even from the distance of a few days don't really want to talk about it. It took three hours out of my day, about 3 years off my life, and I'd rather delete it from my memory.

Will we go back? Now that I've got some sleep, I can say with certainty, "probably".

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Travel with Grace

When the blog gets quiet, it's usually an indication that I'm swamped, which would mean that I have TONS of stuff to blog about...sigh. When I have all the time in the world, I have to come up with things, but then when I've got really interesting stuff going on, I can't even manage to upload a photo, much less discuss it. Anyway, this past month has been busy and wonderful. Grace (one of my sisters) flew in on Christmas Eve and just flew back to the States yesterday morning. We are 9 years apart, but somehow she always challenges me in all the right ways, and motivates me to actually do the things that I say I want to do. (To skip this post and go straight to all of the pictrures, the entire collection of 4 albums is here.)

Now that Lavella's a little bit older and doesn't need to nurse as often, it's a little easier to actually go out and do stuff, so we did! First, we did a little bit of shopping in Kaiserslautern, where I got this:
Chocolate bark, purchased at Hussel in Kaiserslautern
(Click for photo page, then hover mouse over picture for flavor information.)

Next, we went to Saarbruken, where I finally found this beautiful little yarn botique I'd heard about (and hadn't been able to find last time), and...a shop called Chocolate.
Purchases from Chocolate in Saarbruken
From left: truffles, cocoa beans covered in chocolate and dusted in cocoa powder and cinnamon.

Another day was spent in Trier, home of the Porta Nigra and The Cathedral Of Trier (Dom St Peter).

The high point of our trips was in Brussels, Belgium, where we spent last weekend (a trip that Greg could finally come with us on). We took so many pictures there that I'm just going to give you one here -- click for the entire album (most of the pictures have descriptive titles if you're interested).

While there, we got a bunch of chocolate:
Chocolate from Belgium

Finally, we finished out her visit with a day trip to Luxembourg City.
Luxembourg City
I'm not a history buff, but whenever I visit a new city and/or country, I'm suddenly interested to know more about it.

Luxembourg is only 998 square miles, and has a population under half a million, yet it was a founding member of both the United Nations and NATO. In school they are taught three different languages: for the first few years are Luxumbourgish, which then changes to German. By high school, they've switched to French. From 8th grade, they're also taught English. In Luxumbourg City, however, we found that most everyone speaks French, and a tiny bit of English, with (sadly) no German speakers to be found. The more proficient I become at German, the more I miss it when I'm in a foreign country that does not speak it.

Grace flew back to New York yesterday, and arrived there sometime this morning. We miss and love you Grace, and we had a great time with you this past month!