Monday, December 31, 2007

Should auld acquaintance be forgot....?

As I didn't get a jigsaw for Christmas this year, I've had to make my own entertainment.

Not being all that keen on New Year's Eve, not having any parties to be getting ready for and having finished the blanket, what else would I be doing on this night of potential unbridled hedonism but compiling pointless 'Top Fives' of the music year.

Top Five Albums:
5 Neon Bible - Arcade Fire
4 Night Falls Over Kortedala - Jens Lekman
3 The Crane Wife - The Decemberists
2 Civilians - Joe Henry
And, a surprise last-minute Number One: The Shepherd's Dog* - Iron & Wine.
Crept in under the radar, but now I can't stop listening to it and going on about how much I like it.

Best 'album that's really from last year but that I only got to hear this year': The Trials Of Van Occupanther - Midlake

Top 'album I've overlooked all year, but have now been unable to ignore because it was in so many people's 'best of 2007' lists': Boxer - The National

Favourite Five Tracks Of 2007 Not On Any Of The Above Mentioned

(apparently this is cheating, but I don't care)
5 Geisha** - Ben Weaver
4 Walcott - Vampire Weekend
3 Dreamworld - Rilo Kiley
2 When The Morning Comes - Lloyd & Michael
And, miles ahead at Number One:
That Summer, At Home, I Had Become The Invisible Boy - The Twilight Sad
I just fucking love this song (it also wins the 'Best Title').

Top Five Gigs:
5 Gogol Bordello - Academy 1, Manchester
4 Rilo Kiley - Academy 3, Manchester

3 Beirut - Club Academy, Manchester
2 The Decemberists - Academy 2, Manchester

1 Jens Leknam - Sacred Trinity Church, Salford

Best Gigs Not In Manchester Or Salford (now this is definitely cheating)***
Arcade Fire - The Greek Theatre, Berkeley
Ben Gibbard and Johnathan Rice (with an appearance by Jenny Lewis) - The Fillmore, San Francisco

Finally - for now - until I change my mind, or remember some other stuff: Best 'band I forgot to mention but nonetheless really enjoyed in all the above categories' Award: The Shins

Off to pop some mini quiches in the oven and open a bottle of ginger beer so, "Happy New Year" then.

*UPDATE: Brilliant album, but definitely the worst cover art of the year.
** UPDATE: Or maybe "Wings As Knives" instead?
*** UPDATE: Also, possibly showing off a bit too.

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Monday, December 24, 2007

"Christmas won't be Christmas without any presents..."

10.27: Almost kissed the Parcel Force Man.
It will 'be Christmas' after all. Talk about cutting it fine.

Everything's Gonna Be Cool This Christmas - Eels


Thursday, December 20, 2007

Happy Birthday Billy Bragg

7.31 On Time
Today, in honour of Billy Bragg's 50th Birthday, I am going to play "Billy Bragg Song Title Bingo" with my phone calls.

It Says Here
Moving The Goalposts
The Saturday Boy
Accident Waiting To Happen
Strange Things Happen
The Milkman Of Human Kindness
Waiting For The Great Leap Forward
The World Turned Upside Down
From Red To Blue

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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

8.10 Fifteen Minutes Late
While stamping my frozen feet and thinking about Sting (and the video for Don't Stand So Close To Me specifically) I was reminded of a girl on my Film Studies course. While the rest of us had spent the summer before College camping in Cornwall or - hypothetically - reading War & Peace til the A-level results came out and then crying for weeks and thinking life was over - she had run off and married her English teacher.

I was going to speculate over what might have happened to her but, instead, went to Friends Reunited and found out.

They got divorced.

I found something else, while I was there, but that's another story.

The Shepherd's Dog - Iron & Wine


Monday, December 17, 2007

8.10 On Time
Gogol Bordello brought our triumphant and possibly slightly over-ambitious* Autumn gig season to a spectacular close. My ears are still buzzing slightly.

But I was prepared for loud.
I expected frenetic. I expected a bit of a scrum. I thought they might be a bit of a shambles. They arrived onstage at 100mph and managed ninety minutes of acceleration. There was nothing shambolic about them.

It was a bit of a scrum.

A girl who began the evening with a magnificently tall, rainbow coloured Mohican came and went, becoming more bedraggled and worse for drink wear as the night progressed. By the end the magnificent Mohican was a broken wing. It’s likely to have been the best night she’ll never remember.

On the way back to the car TheOlderBoy’s friend commented on the audience demographic: "It was amazing! There were so many young kids there tonight! Last time we saw Gogol Bordello it was mostly Middle Aged People ... No offence..."

Erm... None taken.

Carolina - M Ward
Florida - Modest Mouse
Baltimore - Randy Newman
California - Rufus Wainwright
Nebraska - Bruce Springsteen
Galveston - Glen Campbell
Florida - Grandaddy
Carolina - Josh Rouse

*Sunday nights are a killer, we're not doing Sunday nights anymore. Not untill April 13th anyway.


Friday, December 14, 2007

8.10 Fifteen Minutes Late
But today will be a good day.

This is because yesterday I had a promise to keep. I had to knuckle down and do something I had been putting off all week.

Naturally, before I could even think about knuckling down, every other letter I could possibly write had to be written, every call returned and every email answered (except that one of yours J, but I'm on to it). Eventually my desk was clear, clean and tidy, the “To Do” file empty … except for the One Thing.

So I started the One Thing.

Got three quarters of the way through it, realised I was not only barking up the wrong tree, but in completely the wrong forest. Scrapped it. Started again. Made a call to explain that I’d been a half-wit but that I would still get it done.

Got it done.

So, today, I have a clear, clean, tidy desk and a completely empty To Do File waiting for me.

And I'm in my jeans and T-shirt, lowering my expectations for the Christmas Do.

Throws Daggers - Calexico
Thinking About You - Wolf Colonel
Something Vague - Bright Eyes
Noah's Dove - 10,000 Maniacs
Coney Island - Death Cab For Cutie
Stop - Astrid
You Can't Fail Me Now - Joe Henry
Landed - Ben Folds
Haircut - Kevin Devine
Missing You - Loudon Wainwright III
This Night Has Opened My Eyes - The Smiths
Beyond Belief - Elvis Costello


Thursday, December 13, 2007

17.12 On Time
Obviously, it is that time of year again.

The Christmas Do rolls around and we are powerless to stop it. I spent twenty minutes yesterday trying to buy a new top, because it seemed appropriate to try to make a bit of an effort. I didn't buy anything. All the tops in all the shops were hideous. I felt better about it today when Charlie said she'd spent six hours yesterday trying to buy a new top but still failed.

Looks like it's jeans and T-shirt again then.

The fact that I typed "without recourse to lager" instead of "without recourse to legal action" in a letter this afternoon might be an indication of where my mind is. That I spotted it is reassuring.

I'm trying not to have high expectations of the occasion, because it's best not to.
I'm just hoping for the chance of a conversation with Leanne. We used to have conversations once. We don't seem to anymore. Perhaps it's because she's a boss now. Or perhaps we've already said everything.

Give Up - The Postal Service


7.31 On Time
For all my moaning (and I don't think there's too much moaning) I do prefer to make the effort involved in catching the early train. The early train combines the obvious advantage of doing wonders for your flexi-time with the less quantifiable benefits of getting a chance to watch the sunrise over the power plant while indulging in the feeling of community the later trains lack.

I look around at the regulars:
GirlWhoTalksWithHerHands is animated,TheManWithTheDolphinSmile smiles, TheMilitaryMen and SkinnyLegalWoman resume their banter-which-borders-on-flirting, TheGirlICanAlwaysCatchUp starts another book, KnittingWoman knits. Then there's GeekBoy, RelaxedMan, BabyCommuter, TheTinyDancers (and their friend TheLessThanTinyDancer) ... even ManWithTheIceCreamHair...

Before I get all rose-tinted: The pickle-faced UnpleasantPensioners are here too, bickering and disapproving.

2,000 Miles - The Pretenders
An Innocent Man - BIlly Joel
Get On With Your Life - Stina Nordenstam
All Systems Red- Calexico
Ressurection Fern - Iron & Wine
Sleeping Lessons - The Shins
You Curse At Girls - Fountains Of Wayne


Wednesday, December 12, 2007

17.12 On Time
This lunchtime I shelled out £35 for a haircut that is an only slightly sleeker version of the one my mum gave me when I was
six years old.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

It's probably worth the thirty five quid not to have the wonky fringe though, and I'm not frightened of going to the hairdressers any more so, sometimes, progress is made.

Get Happy - Elvis Costello (again)

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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

17.12 Six Minutes Late
It's that time of year again.

As we slow down to arrive at Posh Station I can see that, since the weekend, every well-heeled house in the gentrified street has a tree in the window. In what surely cannot be coincidence every one of the well-heeled houses has confined decoration of its tree to plain white lights. And I can't even be cynical about it because it is genuinely beautiful.

Get Happy - Elvis Costello


8.10 Four Minutes Late
There's been a sea change.

On the train, for no particular reason, I am more aligned with my fellow travellers and less inclined to invade their privacy with my facetious imaginings.

From the office, ever since ThesaurusBoy remembered the address, I am reluctant to describe events which he is witness to or participant in.

At home, there is far too much at stake.

I self-censor, hold back, hide out.

I'm sure it's just a phase: "Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible".

Valley Winter Song - Fountains Of Wayne
Maybe This Christmas - Ron Sexsmith
Spotlight On Christmas - Rufus Wainwright
River - Joni Mitchell
Just Like Christmas - Low
Wonder If The Snow Will Settle - Clearlake
God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen - Bright Eyes
Did I Make You Cry On Christmas? (Well You Deserved It) - Sufjan Stevens

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Wednesday, December 05, 2007

7.31 On Time
Every Almost every mp3 blogger in the world is posting Christmas songs*. Consequently I have discovered more than I could ever listen too in a month of Christmases. It's crazy, but I don't know how to stop...

Listening To Otis Redding At Home During Christmas - Okkervil River
Christmas Card From A Hooker In Minneapolis - Neko Case
Sometimes You Have To Work On Christmas (Sometimes) - The Long Winters *
Frosty The Snowman - The Cocteau Twins
The Christmas Song - The Ravonettes
Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) - Death Cab For Cutie
Christmas Cake - Rilo Kiley
Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas - Amiee Mann
It's The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year - Andy Williams

*and sometimes it's for a Good Cause


Monday, December 03, 2007

8.10 Seven Minutes Late
Well, anyway, I ran my plan by Lovely who replied most earnestly and with a shake of the head: "Oh no. No. I wouldn't do that. He's nasty. Nasty."

So, I ran my plan by OldFishWife and she said, thoughtfully: "I don't think I would. He's a nasty piece of work". Which seemed to confirm it.

As things turned out I didn't feel too pathetic, there were no more of the 'Foreigners' comments, and it's not as if I didn't stick my oar in at all. I am comforting myself with the thought that, as he was such an expert in body language, words weren't actually necessary. That, and with looking forward to completing the 'feedback' form.

Toxic Girl - Kings Of Convenience
Like A Pen - The Knife
You Are The Light By Which I Travel (into This and That) - Jens Lekman
Crosses - Jose Gonzales
The World Is Saved - Stina Nordenstam
Silence - Leaves
Hoppipolla - Sigur Ros
My Favourite Game - Cardigans


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