Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 What-Not 

Best of 2012:

PJ & The Boy
The best of the best.

The AllMusic Redesign
This year I got to really focus my attention on the redesign of, updating the design and offering more features.   Despite struggles and differences of opinion and the inevitable user backlash, this has been the most fun I've ever had at a job and I hope to keep doing this forever (even in the future when the internet is just light beamed into our heads from space).

We went to a terrific bar called The Royal Cuckoo in San Francisco.
The album selections were all kept in an old card catalog in the back. All Tropicalia, 60s country and obscuro LPs. The owner is the sister of  Lavay Smith who shows up to sing from time to time while her brother plays the Hammond B3 organ. It was dark and styled like a retro hunting lodge and I never wanted to leave.

Somebody put up this flyer at work:

Eating at Lamy's Diner in the Henry Ford Museum
There has been this cool old diner as an exhibit in the middle of the Henry Ford Museum and this year they opened it up to serve food. Better Made chips and Faygo in glass bottles anyone? Andrews Sisters on the tinny radio! Paper hats on the cooks! A dream realized!

Levi's 559 Relaxed Straight jeans.
If you've seen me in pants this year, these are probably the pants you've seen me in. Thanks for the "What Not To Wear"-style fashion advice, Darlin'.

Star Wars Night at Comerica Park
Relief Wookiee  Your Worship
We did a handful of outings to see the Tigers this year, including a super-fun visit to Star Wars Night (as pictured above).
Then they went to the World Series. Bless you boys.

Van Halen put out a new album with David Lee Roth and then went on tour.
I got to see the Detroit show of that tour before Dave and Eddie inevitably got mad at each other.  I blathered on about it here.

Orange & Ginger Energy lotion from Bath & Body Works
Nice lotion, great when poured over ice cream. Also, the liquid hand soap makes a great chaser after a shot of cheap gin.

A romantic weekend with Bells on.
gonna miss my flight
My wife whisked me off to a romantic weekend in Kalamazoo, the highlight of which was finally getting to take the Bells Brewery tour. Eccentric indeed.

Joss Whedon at SXSW
I got to see Joss Whedon speak at South By Southwest. He was funny and clever. Y'know, as billed.

Total Unicorn at SXSW
At South By Southwest we went across the highway to a little bar that was having live music. The main attraction was a band called Total Unicorn.  For a while there were these old roadies setting up equipment and I said to myself "Oh, I wonder when the band is getting here..." then the old guys put on full-head unicorn masks and started playing this bleepy bloopy electronic music. While wearing unicorn heads with light-up eyes.  It was life changing.

Visited Disney and the Harry Potter theme park.
the wand chooses the wizard
We took a family trip down to Orlando to pay the mouse, and also hit up the Harry Potter theme park. 
While the tickets were pricey, I was glad to see the deep nerdiness of an entire theme park devoted to a children's book rendered in such incredible detail.
Even the shops that weren't even shops looked like shops.
Every time you turned around you got to see another subtle Easter Egg reference to the books or Potterverse.
Well done, Floridians.

The Ice Cream Bar in San Francisco
The Ice Cream Bar is a full service 1930s style soda fountain and classic lunch counter, serving house-made ice cream and sodas, kind of like a hip "mixology" cocktail bar but with ice cream. I had a root beer made from tinctures and (I believe) a bit of J.D. Rockefeller's own blood. It was delicious.

The first paragraphs of this interview with Jon Hamm in Esquire.
Little-known fact: Jon Hamm owns four eagles. They sit on separate perches in his backyard. Four species of eagle: golden, tawny, Spanish Imperial, and short-toed snake.
Previously unknown: Every morning, these eagles are fed, then rotated by a robed assistant whose sole duty is to judge which of these regal birds looks most like Jon Hamm on that particular day.

AllMusic on Commercial on TV

I helped to come up with the overall idea and coordinate the music for this promo that was eventually turned into a commercial as seen on DirectTV. 

I had a dream where my sister Emily said that Penny and I acted a lot alike and Penny said "We're just like Billy Gibbons and Dusty Hill if they were in Spandau Ballet instead of ZZ Top."
Cool story bro

They opened a Culvers in our town.
All of the Butterburgers!!!1!

Obama got re-elected.
This means something.

I turned 40.
I had a big party with a bunch of my pals.
This is what I learned.



Innernets and Technology:

I started a Tumblr page
Tumblr is pretty incredible.
It has all of the things that I really loved about blogs so long ago: Just one image after another of funny, crazy, sexy, fascinating things.
Between Tumblr (instantly posting funny images) and Facebook (posting quick observations) it makes Blogger a bit of a tough slog.

Agile development methodologies
Nerdy to say, but Agile is just like making quick lists of things to cross off and when you're done you get a whole project that is completed.  I am appreciative to the folks who have walked me through this so far.

While I miss my tactile keypad, I do enjoy the iPhone. Thanks, work.

I got a new Car Stereo from my darling bride.
It has a USB input so I can play my iPod in the car without trying to hook up the infuriating FM transmitter, but the coolest thing is that the background lights change color. This just in: I am easily impressed by shiny objects.

Crazy Cow video

MOOOOO!  Man did this hit the spot one afternoon.

Angry Birds Star Wars, Where's My Water and Minecraft
Oh iPad, I'm sure there are all sorts of great important things I could be doing with you, but simple games seem to be what I navigate back to for long stretches at a time.

Red Bull Stratos Space Jump and the Mars Rover
Space is the place, apparently. A worthwhile version of the space jump is available on the YouTubes here.

Acid Sweat Lodge
My favorite blog of the year.  These guys collect great photos of bikers, punks, log cabins, party dudes and metalheads, then classify the photos into scientific research groups Like "beards" or "brotherhood" or "hideouts"

G.O.A.T. performing "Quack Like A Duck"

This should probably not be seen (or heard) by anyone, but I'll be damned if some dudes I know didn't watch this video about 74 times in a row and laughed so fucking hard each time.
It makes me question everything I know.



This Spotify Playlist has my best tunes from 2012.

Spotify is like a faucet of music that you just turn on.


3 Pears by Dwight Yoakam
A spectacular pop record by way of Bakersfield.

Boys & Girls by Alabama Shakes
Super brassy soulful female vocals fronting a down-and-dirty bar band.

Some Nights by Fun.
These young kids like Queen records and pop hooks.

The Tarnished Gold by Beachwood Sparks
Sweet and dusty indie twang. This one really grew on me.

Hot Cakes by The Darkness
Cock rock extraordinaire. A return to form after that crappy album with the train on it.

Mirage Rock by Band of Horses
Another grower. Very melodic and anthemic rock with lots of backroads and mountaintop harmonies.

A Different Kind of Truth by Van Halen
Somebody commented that this album was better than it had any right to be, and that feels pretty spot-on.

Celebration Rock by Japandroids
These guys play loud rock and they sound like they're having fun. Both of 'em. 35 minutes of garage-door-rattling fun.

Home Again by Michael Kiwanuka
If The Band hired Bill Withers and Shuggie Otis to cover all of Astral Weeks, it would sound like this.

Pool Party by Ponderosa
Produced by Dave Fridmann (Flaming Lips pal), spacey/swimmy melodies and reverb-y vocals.  Triumphant!

Additionally I spent a good chunk of the year tracking down great old late '60s/early '70s California psych-country tunes.
I envisioned long-haired hippy kids who heard a Merle Haggard record and smoked a big bowl and recorded a twangy freak-out tune or two in their catalog. 

My exploration grew from there, and I ended up with this playlist called California Gold Mine



Raiders of the Lost Ark
Took Hank to see this when they re-released an IMAX version of it. 
We left for the theater across town just before kickoff on a football Saturday.
We wanted our journey to the movie theater to be as close to the Raiders opening sequence as possible: filled with traps and mortal peril.

The boy was totally into it, as is evidenced by his schoolwork:
The narrative says "The Boulder. Who is he again? Indiana Jones. Oh yeah. See the gold idol?"

Hunger Games
When Katniss shouts "I VOLUNTEER!" I get goosebumps.

The Five-Year Engagement
Not spectacular as a film, but I got to say "I know where that is!" about a hundred times since it was filmed in Ann Arbor.

Moonrise Kingdom
Funny and cute. I liked it more than Darjeeling Limited and Fantastic Mr. Fox.

Hoo boy. This one was a heavy little mind-bender. Part sci-fi, part thriller, part horror movie, part shoot-em-up.  All crazy.

White knuckles throughout. Also Alan Arkin in anything is caustic and terrific.

Dark Knight Rises and Wreck-It Ralph
Both of these were entertaining cartoons where beefy good guys triumph over a sinister villain who has a creepy backstory, via the help of a sassy young sidekick. 

The Avengers
Bang! Zoom! Hilarity! Group Dynamics! Flawed Hereos! Scarlett Johansson in a black bodysuit! Shawarma! Joss! So good.



Downton Abbey
Rich white ensemble cast has drama and acts crazy.

Storage Wars
Blue collar white ensemble cast has drama and acts crazy.

Game of Thrones
Medieval white ensemble cast has drama and acts crazy.

Plus I watched Louie, Mad Men, a ton of Tigers Games
and the live episode of 30 Rock nearly killed me:

"I done stole me a catfish! I'm gonna eat 'til I'm belly full!"



Reamde by Neal Stephenson
Man, this guy writes a book that will stick with you.  I never wanted this one to be done.
Big Book
Terrific Neal Stephenson Reading Experience image from this blog.

The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach
A terrific and timeless baseball love story.

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
Oh man, this was like a choose your own adventure book set in an Atari 2600 but, y'know, in the future. Harry Potter DaVinci Code Wozniak/Jobs Tron Indiana Jones awesomeness.

Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson
A fun fantastic introduction into Sanderson's writing. I'll follow up with more of his books.

Fire and Rain: The Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel, James Taylor, CSNY, and the Lost Story of 1970 By David Browne
For anyone who gets sucked into the culture and music of this era, it is a fascinating read. These four artists intertwined and crossed paths in completely unexpected ways, and affected folks including Joni Mitchell, Clive Davis, Mike Nichols, Peter Asher, Dr. Arthur Janov, Carole King and Devo along the way.

Moneyball by Michael Lewis
It was about data and baseball.  I read it just as the season was starting. It clicked.
Book em

If any of these books look interesting, you can find 'em Here on my Goodreads page.

Plus I read the rest of those Game of Thrones books which took up a huge chunk of my reading hours this year.



An unnamed unpleasantness
There was an event that happened in our home this spring that will go unnamed. Alls I can say is that I will be scarred for life. Some grody PTSD going on.

A buncha dudes I like croaked this year: Davy Jones, Ralph McQuarrie, Earl Scruggs, Adam Yauch, Doc Watson, Dave Brubeck, Andy Griffith.
For anybody who only knows Andy Griffith from his show or Matlock, please get a big orange drank and listen to his 1953 monologue called "What It Was, Was Football" will make you smile. It will.

Take/These Broken Wings/And Learn To Fly Again
My 80 year old father-in-law chose a pretty shitty time to break his arm while on vacation all by himself. I was out of town at a conference that I've always wanted to go to (SXSW) in Austin and my wife had to drive down to Nashville to be with him ON HER GOTT-DAMN BIRTHDAY.  I had to leave the conference and fly back early to relieve the Tetris matrix of our family members who were so kindly making sure our son didn't die while we were both in different parts of the country.  It was an unfortunate, inconveniencing event for everyone involved and it could have been avoided with a little bit of forethought.  A real shame.

The Imperfect Storm
heavy stuff
There was a pretty brutal storm in our area this spring featuring local neighborhoods hit hard by tornadoes and for-realgolf ball-sized hail.

Dr. Arwulf stepping down from his Sunday Best radio show.
His radio show on WEMU was my preferred way of starting my Sunday mornings. He inspired my enjoyment of early traditional jazz from the '20s, '30s and '40s.  This year he stepped down but I do miss his quiet cadence and sleepy passion for great music.   You can hear a brief clip of what he would offer In this introduction to a hot Sidney Bechet tune.

Telegraph Avenue by Michael Chabon
A writer I really like writes a novel about two guys who own a vintage record store in the Bay Area? Sounds awesome! In reality it felt really jive-ass. Michael Chabon must have done some research into this world but to me it felt really forced. How much does he know about the African-American experience? And collecting old Soul and Jazz sides? Ug. It all felt really forced which was a big disappointment for me.

Road Trip to Tennessee
My grandma has some pretty advanced Alzheimer's to the point where the caretakers at her old-folks-home recommended that she be put in a facility that specializes in that kind of care. So my dad's side of the family took a trip down to Tennessee to move her from one facility to another. While the trip went as well as it could, it is still tough to see somebody's memory slipping away like that.

My Great Depression
My company's stock dropped considerably in 2012 and I lost a lot of money. It sucks.

Weird Beard
Hats off to you dudes who can grow a beard.
I gave it my best for about 2 months this year and only found out that
1) I look bad with a skimpy-ass beard and
2) beards are awful itchy things to wear.

It did, however give me the opportunity to sport this swell Magnum P.I.-styled cookie duster for about 20 minutes. 
Silver beard lining.

Sucks Gettin' Old.
Friends, I gotta tell ya, Almost upon the moment of turning 40 this year, my bones got creakier, my back got tighter, my joints make noise in the morning and my cuts take longer to heal. I have a scrape on my cheek that I got in early fall and I can still see it today.  I feel as though I should buck up and say "40 is the new 17!" or something, but I genuinely feel older. 


Thanks Innernets and those involved with my life.

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