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Monthly Archives: December 2007

Well, the year is winding down. So, since I’ve become addicted to iTunes and have increased my music collection exponentially throughout the year, I thought I’d make my own list of favourite music from the year. Here goes – in no particular order…

1. “Raising Sand,” Robert Plant and Alison Krauss
When I first got wind of this collaboration, my first thought was “What the…? The former Led Zeppelin lead singer and the reigning bluegrass queen – together?” I didn’t get it. But when I listened to the first single, “Gone Gone Gone (Done Moved On),” I got it. One of the most unexpected pairings in recent memory is a brilliant one. My favourite cut on the record is the aforementioned single, but Krauss’ rendition of “Let Your Loss Be Your Lesson” comes a close second.

2. “The Reminder,” Feist
I’ll admit that I wasn’t a Feist fan before this album. I’m not one of her hardcore fans. But this album is infectious, from the first single, “My Moon My Man,” to the current iPod commercial favourite, “1234.” “I Feel It All” is another favourite. But she also does well on the understated cuts, such as “So Sorry” and “The Water.” Her voice is one of the most unique in all of music right now. It’s able to show such a range of colour – remarkable for a more mainstream artist. Thank God for Feist.

3. “The Russian Album,” Anna Netrebko
All right – all of you non-classical fans can skip this entry. I’ll admit that it took a couple of listens for me to discover how truly beautiful this album is. It is Russian opera, which is much darker and intense than its Italian and French counterparts; German is the only language that comes close to emulating the types of sounds Russian opera provides. But this album is a gem, not only for the fact that is shines a light on some of the most underperformed music in the opera repertory; I didn’t know Prokofiev even wrote an opera. But it’s just gorgeous from start to finish. Hearing an actual Russian singer and a Russian conductor in Russian repertoire allows an authentic listening experience. The colours are absolutely breathtaking.

4. “Drastic Fantastic,” KT Tunstall
I love this gal. And I loved her even more after listening to her interview with George Stroumboulopoulos on “The Hour.” Her Scottish brogue combined with her hilarious nature make her one of my new favourite musical personalities. You can tell she’s one of those people that doesn’t care what other people think – she’s true to herself and does what she wants. “Drastic Fantastic” continues the success of “Eye to the Telescope.” Wonderfully catchy.

5. “Unglamorous,” Lori McKenna
One of my favourite singer-songwriters. After Faith Hill recorded some of her songs, McKenna hit the big time, finally landing a deal with a major record label. For all those (including me) who worried that McKenna’s move to a major label would detract from the simplicity and straightforwardness of her music and lyrics – have no fear. “Unglamorous” features more orchestration and textures than her previous albums, but in a good way. I can’t pick a favourite stand-out track. It’s just that good.

Honourable Mentions:
“A Place to Land,” Little Big Town – Was indifferent on the first listen, but the more and more I listen, the more and more I like it.
“Leave the Pieces,” The Wreckers – A great debut and a great fresh sound from two guitar-playing gals with gusto.
“Welcome to the Night Sky,” Wintersleep – “Weighty Ghost” had me after the first few beats. I’ll be listening to this band for years to come.

Best Singles
1. “Gunpowder and Lead,” Miranda Lambert
2. “Take Me There,” Rascal Flatts
3. “Lost in this Moment,” Big & Rich
4. “Gone Gone Gone (Done Moved On),” Robert Plant and Alison Krauss
5. “How I Feel,” Martina McBride
6. “1234,” Feist
7. “Talk of the Town,” Kate Walsh
8. “Little Favours” KT Tunstall
9. “Weighty Ghost,” Wintersleep
10. “Leave the Pieces,” The Wreckers

Albums I’m ashamed to say I downloaded and like for the simple fact that they’re easy listening, catchy, and well – cheesy:
“Carnival Ride,” Carrie Underwood
“Taking Chances,” Celine Dion
“Unbreakable,” Backstreet Boys

Most disappointing album:
“My December,” Kelly Clarkson – I really, really, really wanted Kelly to repeat the success of “Breakaway.” Hopefully all of her personal stuff with her management and whatnot will get sorted out and she’ll come back out on top. Looks like it was all too much and the result was a less than stellar album.

With Christmas beginning earlier and earlier with each and every passing year, I have to admit that this time of year is beginning to lose some of its magic for me. I was chatting about this with one of the guys at work last night, saying that Christmas just isn’t as special as it used to be. I don’t know if that’s part of getting older, or if it’s the fact that I always have exams and therefore this time of year is very stressful, or if it’s because I now live close to home, so going home isn’t as significant an event as it once was. Maybe it’s a combination of many things. Or maybe I’m just cynical…

Anyway…

In hopes of regaining that ‘Christmas magic,’ I downloaded some music from my childhood that will hopefully bring back some Christmas memories. The first one was The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don’t Be Late); you know – the one where Alvin wants a hoola hoop. This song still makes me laugh; and it’s catchy. I’ll probably be singing it the rest of the day.

Another of my favourite Christmas albums is Jewel’s CD. My cousin Andy bought it for me, saying it was very good. I was skeptical, but I fell in love with it. Her version of O Holy Night is exquisite.

I also downloaded the soundtrack to A Charlie Brown Christmas and A Boney M Christmas. My Mom used to always get out her Boney M Christmas album at this time of year; Mary’s Boy Child is their classic.

What else?

I have two finals this week: one is a take home, the other I already have all of the questions for. Unfortunately this means that I actually have to PREPARE. I’d rather just study and then go in and make it up. Preparing in advance mean profs expect better answers. Not a fan.

I’ve decided that I’m going to apply for the Masters program in Political Science. It’s only one year, and one of my professors said he’s going to try and convince me to do it. Well, I then talked to one of the ladies at work who works in the Grad Studies admissions office. She then talked to her boss, who said that if my professor asked me to do it, I’d probably get some funding for it. She also said that they have trouble getting U of S students to stay, so they’d probably help me out if I was willing to stay. We’ll see…

I bought the Pirate 3 DVD! I had planned to watch it when I got home from work last night, but no such luck. I was up really late, but didn’t feel like listening to any more noise; I wanted silence.

It’s amazing how busy work has become the past week or so. With the opening of the new Clarence Avenue overpass and the opening of some of the surrounding businesses, we’ve sure been a lot busier. It’s good and bad. It’s good because I’m never bored; it’s bad because my stress level at work is a lot higher.

I guess I’d better get studying here. I gave myself a day off yesterday; now it’s back to the grind…

For some unknown reason, I voluntarily got out of bed before 9:00 this morning. Not sure why. It’s been an hour since then, and I really haven’t done anything productive to warrant my early rising. Meh.

I am going to enjoy yet another day off. That’s four in a row. I feel so much more centered, focused, yadda, yadda, yadda. I needed this. Without it, I might have had a little breakdown, though I think I was pretty close. It’s time to start looking for another job…

Yesterday was the LSAT. What a pain in the ass. I had to be there before 8:30, and we didn’t actually start until 9:30. Then you fill out one form, and then another, and then you write a certifying statement, and then they have to make sure that you’re you. Then you write a section. You stop. You write the next one. Stop. Write the 3rd one. Then you have a break, but before you take the break, you have to hand in your test, which involves more identification, forms, etc. Then you come back, they hand back the tests, you confirm yet again that you are you, double check to make sure you have the correct exam booklet. Then you write another section. Stop. Write the last section. Stop. Hand in the test booklet. Hand out the written sample topic. Fill out some more forms. Write the written sample. Hand the written sample in. Wait until they confirm that there are the same number of test books and written samples. Finally, 5 1/2 hours after you began, you can leave. Did I mention what a pain in the ass it is?

So how was the actually test? Well, for the little I actually studied, I guess it was okay. The games section didn’t go so well; I only got through 2 of them. And who knows if I got any of the questions right. The rest was okay. One of the reading comprehension sections was the ‘experimental section.’ I hate how they make you do an extra 35 minutes of work for them; I basically paid for them to use me as a research guinea pig. Stupid.

I have absolutely no idea how well/poorly I did. I really don’t want to write the stupid thing again. It’s a pain in the ass. I think I already mentioned that…

Anyway, I’m thinking that I’m going to apply to both law school and the Masters in Political Science program. My POLS 405 professor sent me an email the other day, stating that my essay for his class was one of the best he’s read. He said he’s going to try and convince me to do the Master’s program. It is only one year. What’s a year when you’ve been going to school for the previous eight? Anyway, I went home and reread my paper, which I once again decided was a piece of crap. Funny how that works, huh?

I feel a little lost today. The past 3 Sundays have involved me getting into my Rider gear and nervously anticipating that afternoon’s playoff game. I don’t have anything to watch this afternoon/evening. Usually this means that the Riders have lost and I try to not watch the other teams play for the coveted Grey Cup, only to succumb to my curiosity and turn on the TV, swearing the entire time that my beloved team yet again isn’t there. This isn’t the case this year. The Riders claimed the top prize. They won the Grey Cup. There is no football for this year. I can’t wait for training camp. We’re gonna repeat in 2008! You heard it here first…

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