Saturday, April 1, 2006

ETC.: Keeping the faith

...Oh thank the lord, it's Friday. Both my editor and city editor have been on vacation all week which basically means yours truly is theoretically in charge of putting out a daily newspaper. It's been pretty smooth, fortunately a slow week except for a political scandal or two, but I am ready for the weekend. Here's five things that kept me going this week:

Image hosting by Photobucket1. Hurray for death and despair! Season 5 of "Six Feet Under" finally came out on DVD this week, and we've been burning through it at Netflix. Not being rich enough to afford the HBO, since Season 3 ended we've been forced to wait for the DVDs. What a bleak and beautiful show this is. The first episode alone features dead housewives, miscarriages, senility and gay adoptions! If it hadn't been one of the best written and acted shows on the air, it'd be just too depressing to endure. Now we finally get to see the final season! (Yeah, I've heard about the acclaimed last episode, but now I can see it.)

2. I love that 33 1/3 music-writing series, but "33 1/3: The Replacements' Let It Be" by Colin Meloy might be my favorite in the series so far, despite not following the series' typical parameter of being about the creation of and analyzing some of the best albums of all time. Instead, Meloy, the frontman for the cult Portland band The Decemberists, delivers a sharp, funny and poignant memoir of growing up in Montana and how music, including the Mats, helped save his life. Full of great little details of what it was like to be oddball and growing up in the early '80s, "Let It Be" is a fine read even if you've never heard the Replacements.

3. Another TV show that I hadn't caught on air but can now see through the miracle of DVD is Seth Green's bizarro "Robot Chicken" series from Cartoon Network. A ramshackle ode to pop culture with random offensive short skits featuring animated action figures, it's great fun. Not every skit is a home run, but I ask, how can you go wrong with "The Real World: The Super Friends," featuring a suicidal Aquaman? Or a "Cannonball Run" takeoff that ends with "Ponch" from "CHiPS" getting decapitated? Glorious.

Hurray, I finally got in the mail the new super-sprawling box set "RT: The Life And Music Of Richard Thompson", 5 jam-packed discs covering 30+ years of music by England's finest modern guitarist. I've barely dipped into the massive set, which is extremely well done by Britain's Free Reed Records – besides the five discs, almost entirely devoted to rarities and live takes of Thompson's best, it includes a huge 160-page book, plus a free voucher for a sixth disc of tunes to add to the set. In terms of doing justice to its subject, it's just about the best box set I've ever bought (closest runner-up being the Velvet Underground's "Peel Slowly And See," containing pretty much everything that band ever recorded). I'll be listening to this a lot in coming weeks getting ready for my date with Mr. Thompson May 9.

5. Post-comeback Roy Orbison. Man, you can't go wrong with his lonesome late 1980s tunes like "You Got It," "Mystery Girl," "I Drove All Night" and more. I've been soaking up the Orbison with the spiffy new "Essential Roy Orbison" 2-CD set, which I just happened to review over at BlogCritics this week. Go here and read the review; I'll be sitting here in the dark with my sunglasses on.

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