Sunday, February 21, 2010

Lent Without Facebook

Normally I don't observe Lent or the practice of sacrificing something important to me during it. This year, though, I decided Lent would provide me with an opportunity to cut out something that uses up too much of my time: Facebook. I am guilty of checking Facebook way too frequently, so I decided to go without Facebook for forty days (Lent is roughly forty days, right?) and see how it changes things in my life.

A few days in, I am starting to get used to not checking Facebook when online. At first it felt incredibly strange to not log in to Facebook when I got the computer, but I am gradually becoming more accustomed to it, and I can already see it freeing up time I normally wasted checking Facebook.

I've also felt a little cut off from things, especially from people with whom Facebook was my primary form of communication, but I think that may also change as time goes on. I'll check back in throughout Lent if there is anything notable worth updating you on.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

2009 Davie Awards

This year's annual Davie Awards ended being such a source of frustration, I was about to just scrap them entirely.  Every year I run into the same problem:  since I have to watch, listen, play, and read everything on this list on my own time and with my own money, I always reach a point around the end of the year where I'm cramming to fit everything in before I publish the awards.  This inevitably means the awards are pushed back at least into late January, and I still end up missing things that in all likelihood would make the list (for example, the critically acclaimed film Crazy Heart).  This year things ended up getting so delayed that I thought long and hard about just abandoning the awards all together. 

In the end, I decided I might as well just post what I have and been done with it.  I did spend a significant amount of time getting everything together, so it seems a waste to throw everything away.  Instead, I've decided to go ahead and just post what I have now in mid-February, when it's far too late for anyone to still care about last year (as if anyone cared about these awards before they were over a month late).

Favorite Album
  1. Dinosaur Jr. - Farm:  This marks their second masterpiece since the band reformed with the original lineup in the mid-2000s, proving that their new material might be their best yet.
  2. The Horrors - Primary Colours
  3. A Place to Bury Strangers - Exploding Head
  4.  The Flaming Lips - Embryonic: This albums sees the Flaming Lips channeling early psydeclic-era Pink Floyd.  Not a bad combination. 
  5. Grizzly Bear - Veckatimest 
  6. Them Crooked Vultures - Them Crooked Vultures: I'm worried I might be ranking this too high just because I want it to be this good (at one point I had this ranked as high as 2nd). With Dave Grohl, Josh Homme, and John Paul Jones, the end result isn't quite equal to the some of it's parts, but still a solid rock album.
  7. Arctic Monkeys - Humbug
  8. Royksopp - Junior: This record is just plain fun.
  9. Sonic Youth - The Eternal
  10. Built to Spill - There Is No Enemy
  11. Soulsavers - Broken: Another great collaboration with singer Mark Lanegan.
  12. Atlas Sound - Logos
  13. Meat Puppets - Sewn Together
  14. Wilco - Wilco (The Album)
  15. The Dead Weather - Horehound:  Another year, another enjoyable release from Jack White.
  16. Animal Collective - Merriweather Post Pavilion:  I bought into the hype about this record at first, but in reality it’s two or three really good songs, with lots of mediocre filler. Not bad, but extremely overrated (though not nearly as overrated as that awful Dirty Projectors album).  Although now I wonder if I'm punishing it too severely by pushing it so far down on the list, but lately I can't listen to the whole album without getting bored.
  17. Yeah Yeah Yeahs - It's Blitz
  18. Deerhunter - Rainwater Cassette Exchange EP
  19. Yo La Tengo - Popular Songs
  20. The Field - Yesterday and Today:  Best techno/electronica album I've heard in awhile.
Honorable Mention:  The xx - xx; HEALTH - GET COLOR; Bonnie 'Prince' Billy - Beware; White Rabbits - It's Frightening

Favorite Live Album
  1. Nirvana - Live at Reading - The DVD version of this album is essential.
  2. Tom Waits - Glitter and Doom Live
  3. Bonny Billy and the Picket Line - Happytown Comedown
  4. Leonard Cohen - Live in London / Leonard Cohen - Live at the Isle of Wight
  5. Neil Young - Dreaming Man: Live '92

Favorite Box Set
  1. The Beatles Stereo Box Set
  2. Neil Young Archive

Favorite Movie

  1. The Hurt Locker - One of the best--and least political--war movies I've ever seen.
  2. Up in the Air
  3. Food, Inc. - Probably the most important movie of the year.  If you only see one, make it this documentary.
  4. Ponyo on the Cliff By the Sea - H. Miyazki strikes again with another fantastic anime epic.  The lack of nomination for the Best Animated Feature Academy Award is criminal.
  5. (500) Days of Summer
  6. Zombieland - Jesse Eisenberg and Woody Harrelson are hilarious together in this movie, and it features one of the best surprise cameos, ever.
  7. Up
  8. A Serious Man - The second under-the-radar black comedy by the Coen Brothers since the phenomenal No Country For Old Men.
  9. District 9
  10. The Cove
  11. Avatar - I have a feeling I’m going to look back in a couple years and see that all the praise for Avatar was greatly exaggerated. It was an unbelievable experience in theater to see thr film in I-Max 3D, but the whole thing was so overwhelming, and I believe repeated viewings on DVD will expose a lot more flaws.  I've already been dropping it down this the list the more I've thought about it.
  12. Moon - Sam Rockwell turns in two of my favorite performances of the year
  13. Inglourious Basterds
  14. Anvil! The Story of Anvil - Like a real-life version of This is Spinal Tap, but with a heart.  Another movie the deserved an Academy Award nomination, this time for Best Documentary.
  15. Adventureland - This movie was criminally misrepresented in the trailers to look like a raunchy teen comedy.
  16. The Road - Loved the book, but the movie was something of a let down in comparison.  Still moving, but it felt like the studio chopped it up to make it more palatable for the mainstream.
  17. Fantastic Mr. Fox
  18. The Damned United
  19. It Might Get Loud
  20. Public Enemies - Not sure why this movie only got mixed critical reviews.
Honorable Mention:  In the Loop, Star Trek, Big Fan, Funny People, The Hangover, I Love You Man

Favorite Books
  1. In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan
  2. A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller
  3. The Power of Less by Leo Babauta
  4. Career Renegade by Jonathan Fields
(yes, I read a lot more than four books last year, these are just the only ones published in 2009)

Video Games
  1. Rock Band: The Beatles
  2. Left 4 Dead 2
  3. Plants vs. Zombies
Sadly I don't have much time to play games anymore, but these were my favorites from last year.

 And that, as they say, is that.  Come back next year, folks.  I might still be here.