The Juice Bar

My muses, thoughts, ideas, and whatever

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The end-of-the-year lists post

Here as we come to the end of another year, and everyone makes up best-of-2008 lists, I have compiled a list of my own, because, I like to make lists, and I listened to a lot of cool music and read a lot of good books this year. So, here goes:

Best albums of 2008 (at least of the ones I've gotten around to listening to)

1. TV on the Radio - Dear Science
2. Sloan - Parallel Play
3. The 77s - Holy Ghost Building
4. Fleshtones - Take a Good Look
5. Fleet Foxes - Fleet Foxes
6. Destroyer - Trouble in Dreams
7. Devotchka - A Mad and Truthful Telling
8. Marco Benevento - Invisible Baby
9. Calexico - Carried to Dust
10. Woven Hand – Ten Stories
11. My Morning Jacket - Evil Urges
12. Goldfrapp - Seventh Tree
13. Los Campenisnos – Hold on Now, Youngster
14. Dengue Fever – Venus on Earth
15. Sparks – Exotic Creatures of the Deep
16. David Byrne and Brian Eno - Everything That Happens Will Happen Today
17. She and Him - Volume One
18. Copeland - You Are My Sunshine
19. Lovedrug - The Sucker Punch Show
20. Vampire Weekend - Vampire Weekend

Best songs of 2008 (songs not listed in order of favorite to least favorite, but listed as the way I would have them flow in a mix CD)

1. "Constructive Summer" - The Hold Steady
2. "Believe in Me" – Sloan
3. "Halfway Home" – TV on the Radio
4. "Against the Skyline" – Oh Darling
5. "The News" – Carbon/Silicon
6. "Swimming Pools" – Thao
7. "Two Silver Pools" – Calexico
8. "Going Back to School" – Fleshtones
9. "Lost Coastlines" – Okkervil River
10. "The Real Morning Party" – Marco Benevento
11. "Lighten Up, Morrisey" - Sparks
12. "Strange Overtones" – David Byrne and Brian Eno
13. "The Clockwise Witness" - Devotchka
14. "White Winter Hymnal" – Fleet Foxes
15. "Blood Like" – Lovedrug
16. "I’ll Remember You, Love, In My Prayers" – The 77s
17. "Absence" – Carrie Rodriguez
18. "A&E" – Goldfrapp
19. "Cathedrals" - Joan Osborne
20. "Out Like Bats" – Tu Fawning
21. "My Favorite Year" – Destroyer

Best live concerts I attended in 2008:

1. Michael Farris - Cornerstone 2008
2. Bruce Springsteen - Scotttrade Center, St. Louis
3. New Pornographers/Okkervil River - The Orpheum, Madison, WI
4. Sloan - Dante's, Portland, OR
5. The Swell Season - The Pageant, St. Louis
6. Devotchka - The Pageant, St. Louis
7. Caedmon's Call - Calvin College, Grand Rapids, MI
8. Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings - The Pageant, St. Louis
9. The 77s - Cornerstone 2008
10. MeWithoutYou - Off Broadway, St. Louis
11. Neko Case - The Pageant, St. Louis
12. IlyAimy - Saint Charles Coffee House, St. Charles, MO
13. Calexico - Blueberry Hill, St. Louis
14. Resurrection Band - Cornerstone 2008
15. Destroyer - Blueberry Hill, St. Louis

Favorite books I've read in 2008:

1. So Young, Brave, and Handsome - Leif Enger
2. Winter's Tale - Mark Helprin
3. Watchmen- Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons
4. Cyndere's Midnight - Jeffrey Overstreet
5. Acedia and Me: Marriage, Monks, and a Writer's Life - Kathleen Norris
6. Fieldwork - Mischa Berlinski
7. Freddy and Frederika - Mark Helprin
8. My Name is Russell Fink - Michael Snyder
9. Danny Gospel - David Athey
10. The Infinite Day - Chris Walley
11. The Battle for Vast Dominion - George Bryan Povlika
12. Sweethearts - Sara Zarr
13. Merciless - Robin Parrish
14. The Shadow and Night - Chris Walley
15. The Next Christendom - Phillip Jenkins

Best books I've read in 2008 that were published in 2008

1. So Young, Brave, and Handsome - Leif Enger
2. Cyndere's Midnight - Jeffrey Overstreet
3. Fieldwork - Mischa Berlinski
4. Acedia and Me: Marriage, Monks, and a Writer's Life - Kathleen Norris
5. The Infinite Day - Chris Walley
6. My Name is Russell Fink - Michael Snyder
7. Danny Gospel - David Athey
8. The Battle for Vast Dominion - George Bryan Povlika
9. Sweethearts - Sara Zarr
10. Summa Elvetica - Theodore Beale
11. Merciless - Robin Parrish
12. Hero, Second Class - Mitchell Bonds

OK, enough lists for now. More to come next year.

My reading list - December 2008

This month I read two books from Marcher Lord Press, the coolest new little publishing house in America, specializing in fantasy fiction that takes faith seriously.

Summa Elvetica by Theodore Beale

An intriguing mix of fantasy and theology that takes place in a world that is ruled by an organization much like the Catholic church. Fortunately, the church here isn't depicted as absolute evil like Phillip Pullman would. Here, a young is dispatched by the church's pontiff to find the answer to a thorny theological question: Do elves have souls. On the way to Rome, he gets caught up in an adventure where he is rescued by corrupt officials in the Elven kingdom and learns the truth about the Church and about the nature of God and the soul. An interesting look at the fantasy genre.

Hero, Second Class by Mitchell Bonds

A fun fantasy tale influenced as much by Monty Python and Terry Pratchett as by Lord of the Rings a nd Eragon. A quest involving a self-narrating swordsman, a wise-cracking dragon, a fair maiden that happens to be a cat-like species, an apprentice hoping to one day become a Hero, Second Class (and probably by the time of the next book in this series, a Hero, First Class). The author is only twenty years old, but shows a lot of imagination and wit, which will hopefully lead to a successful career, fame, money, all that stuff.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Map of U.S. States Visited

Around four years ago on my blog, I posted a map showing the states I have visited. I happened to find the internet site with the map on it, and since I have done a fair bit of traveling since then, I have updated my map. So now I have visited 44 states out of the 50. Woo-Hoo!

create your own personalized map of the USA
or check out ourCalifornia travel guide

Tuesday, December 02, 2008


I have successfully finished Nanowrimo for another year! I managed to compose 50,000 words toward a novel during the month of November. As it turns out, I managed to complete the whole draft of the novel, with a final word count of 52,063 words.

What does this mean for my story of a lottery winner who becomes so bored with life with millions of dollars that he lives in an abandoned Wal-Mart, and has to be awakened by meeting a hippie-ish girl? I have no idea.

But I got a cool virtual sticker from the Nanowrimo web site with a pirate ship and a Winner tag, so that's cool enough for now!

My reading list - November 2008

My reading list for November 2008, a little light due to Nanowrimo, but one very good book:

Acedia and Me - by Kathleen Norris

An informative look in to a spiritual sickness that is largely ignored by psychologists, doctors, and even clergy: the condition that monks centuries ago termed "acedia", which is a malaise, an indifference of not caring about anything. Kathleen Norris looks at the way this condition was diagnosed by monks, and how the condition affects many people in our modern society, though they wouldn't call it by name. She also differentiates between acedia as a sickness of the spirit, verses clinical depression, which is a physiological condition due to impaired brain chemical functions. She also recounts her own struggle against acedia in the midst of her life as a writer and through her marriage to a husband with significant health challenges. Ms. Norris really gives an insightful look into a condition that affects so much of modern society, that is not named but whose effects are felt in human isolation, cynicism, and coldness of heart. We should learn to diagnose this condition in ourselves, and I am learning how much of my life has been affected by acedia.