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The best of the past two weeks, end of the year edition. See you all again in January!

Blogcritics Editors’ Picks: November 29 through December 12

This is our final edition of editors’ picks until January. We’d like to thank all of the writers whose work has been highlighted this past year for their ongoing efforts to keep the rest of us informed, entertained, and enlightened. The editorial staff wishes the entire BC community a healthy and happy new year.

MUSIC

From Music Editor Connie Phillips:

Laura Misjak of Modern Pea Pod braves depression to fill readers in on the musical tales contained in this album from the alternative-country howlers in Music Review: Gob Iron – Death Songs for the Living.

In Music Review: Sarah McLachlan – Mirrorball – The Complete Concert, Dominick Evans pays tribute to the artist while exploring every aspect of the release.

Tim Gebhart's review of Riverside Profiles: Bill Evans walks the reader through the history of the Bill Evan's Trio as well as touching on all the highlights of the CD.

El Bicho delivers with even-handed look at the Robert Randolph & The Family Band's album Colorblind, and concludes reaching wider isn't always better.

Benjamin Cossel eloquently expresses his concerns and frustrations over the newest trend in concert photography. Read about the newest standard of only allowing a photographer to shoot during three songs, with no flash, in Three and You're Out.

In There is No Cure for Writer's Block, James Hutchinson does an excellent job of reporting the delay of the Cure's new album.

On the anniversary of John Lennon's death Ray Ellis opens up and shares his memories of the singer/songwriter and reviews The U.S. vs. John Lennon – Music from the Motion Picture.

Follow Tim Gebhart as he takes you on a walk through the history of this artist as he reviews Riverside Profiles: Chet Baker. A must read for the Jazz enthusiast.

BOOKS

From Asst. Books Editor Gordon Hauptfleisch:

Of Steel Drivin' Man: John Henry – the Untold Story of an American Legend, Jon Sobel says "Few things are more interesting than when folklore and history dovetail. This book is a valuable contribution to both studies." I share those interests, and appreciate such writing that can also unify both strands into a cohesive and articulate review.

"Dear Sir or Madam: Will you read my book?" Well, not the dryly academic The Beatles And Philosophy (Popular Culture And Philosophy). But I will read Glen Boyd's breezy and entertaining review of it.

I may not know art books, but I know what I like. In his cohesive and engrossing review of The Yellow House – Van Gogh, Gauguin, and Nine Turbulent Weeks in Arles, Adam Jusko says the author "does a nice job of setting the scene in many ways." So does Adam's review.

I love a mystery, especially ones that weave some history into the story. Just as rewarding, though, is a book review that does the same, such as SJ Reidhead's take on Shape Shifter, which shapes up to also be an educational and anthropological treat.

Though I would recommend against the scratch 'n' sniff version, the story of a nefarious plot foiled by Fido-flatulence sounds like a must. In reading this book to her children, Roberta Rosenberg says "I was laughing so hard with each page it took me twice as long to finish the book with them as usual." Certain sisters-in-law aside, you'll also be laughing at Roberta's personal account of her familial read-alouds.

TV/FILM

From TV Editor TV and Film Guy:

This week TV and Film Guy is theming his picks, and we're goin' all SNL. Let's face it folks, Saturday Night Live has been around forever (a least in television terms). My goodness, it's been over 30 years at this point. 30 years. It absolutely was, unquestionably funny when it started, and El Bicho tells us all about that. Is it funny now? Well, Cameron Archer has been diligently watching this season and continues to bring us weekly blow-by-blows of the current goings-on. Personally, I think that the "new cast" is always seen as less talented than the old, and that it is only once the current crop leaves that they are accepted.

The Wire
may have low ratings, but everyone that watches it seems to think it's at the top of the class. I guess it's true — it's not TV, it's HBO. It's also apparently only got one season left. Bill Sherman took a look at this season's finale. Maybe if we ask real nice he'll write up next season, too.

From TV Editor Jackie:

Diane Kristine took us through an intriguing journey of the naughty and the nice during 2006 in her article. She touches on both Canadian and the United States television and film. If I had my say, Diane Kristine would certainly be on the Nice List for Blogcritics 2006!

Robin Kavanaugh reviewed The New Adventures of Lois and Clark – The Complete Fourth Season on DVD, giving us a neat little trip back in time to a show I forgot I enjoyed so much. It totally slipped my mind that Howie Mandel played Mister Mxyzptlk!

TV and Film Guy is preaching to the choir as How I Met Your Mother is my favorite currently airing sitcom, but nonetheless his article Here's Another Show You Won't Watch, But Should is a good read. I just hope he didn't jinx the show. If he did, you know I'll give him some grief!

Blake Matthews took us for a tour through the DVD set Inside the Actor's Studio – Icons and made me wonder why I keep forgetting to watch such a fantastic show.

Connie Phillips reviewed a very interesting television movie which I missed in her article TV Movie Review: Wedding Wars. It's an intriguing premise for a movie and she even provided a video clip. Cool!

From Film Editor Lisa McKay:

John Cameron Mitchell’s Shortbus is not a film for everyone. Adam Blair saw it and found that it continued to resonate long after the viewing experience was over. Even if the film might not be your cup of tea, this piece will interest you.

Alan Dale
saw Clint Eastwood’s WWII opus Flags Of Our Fathers and found the characters to be one-dimensional and the National World War II Memorial in Washington, DC to be more moving. Enough said?

Brothers of the Head is ostensibly a movie about conjoined twin rock stars. Ray Ellis uncovers the metaphors within in this incisive and intriguing review.

Inland Empire is David Lynch’s latest entry into the world of strange, and clydefro takes a look. The plot defies explanation, and this review does a good job of conjuring up some of the nightmarish uncertainty that is a hallmark of Lynch’s work.

I imagined Kati Irons to be wearing an eye patch and sporting a parrot on her shoulder while she was writing this review of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, just released on DVD. This review is almost as entertaining as Capt. Jack Sparrow.

CULTURE

From Asst. Culture Editor Melita Teale:

In Found in Translation, Atul Sabharwal writes about a brief encounter with a man whose language he doesn't share, but with whom he manages to communicate. It's a touching and evocative reminder of the joys of connection we make while being strangers in strange lands.

Shortly but sweetly, Spincycle has a look at how the excuses for the general public's lack of understanding and engagement in policy issues don't hold water. A quick and coherent call to action titled Care to Know? Celebrities or Foreign Policy.

Cute and useful at once, like a Hello Kitty carry-on bag, this list of holiday traveling tips from Jennifer Jordan makes good reading and better advice.

From Culture Editor Diana Hartman:


Donnie Marler
delivers a heartfelt and sincere tribute to the human condition, random kindness, and good will in We'll Take You Home.

POLITICS

From Politics Editor Dave Nalle:

Satire: With Atomic Weapons, We Can Still Win in Iraq
by RJ Elliott. That rarest of creatures, a satirical article which is both amusing and topically relevant. We need more like this.

Idiots Anonymous: The Outrage Over Swearing In with the Koran by Sean Aqui. If we can't use the politics section to point a finger at the blatantly idiotic behavior of political extremists, what use are we?

Good News From Iraq You Haven't Heard – Is Hope On the Way?
by Bird of Paradise. Not only an interesting article, but a look into the perspective of those who continue to hold out hope for solutions in the best interests of the people of Iraq.

The Educated Class
by Sean Aqui. A provocative consideration of the role of nature versus nurture in American society.

Why I Left the Conservative Movement
by Tom Bux. We only got one article on the tempest-in-a-teapot issue of whether the Koran should be used to swear oaths, but it's dead on.

Flush With Election Success, Venezuela's Chávez Appoints New Cabinet Minister: Jesus Christ by Clavos. A nice look at the ongoing bizarre behavior of our favorite tyro dictator from one of our newest contributors.

SPORTS

From Sports Editor Matthew T. Sussman:

The colorful yet controversial analysts are out there in droves, but Alessandro Nicolo defends one well in Finding Don Cherry, and as a bonus, he let us know exactly how he feels about those greasy Mongolians.

M.D. Sandwasher did some solid beat reporting in Oxford this weekend in both games of the Miami U.-Ferris State hockey series.

Craig Lyndall wrote my article for me — how'd he know to do that? I didn't even e-mail him — because the BCS got it right this year.

It ain't gonna happen, but at least Craig Lyndall is thinking outside the box by trying to
get Bill Cowher to coach the Cleveland Browns.

From the big boys to the equally-big-just-unpaid boys, Vince Mullins demonstrates how to evolve an argument through the comments when he initially criticizes Michigan football coach Lloyd Carr for not campaigning his team in the BCS voting, then when commenter "Chris" provides evidence that it's a school policy not to lobby the program in public, Vince seamlessly reshifts the criticism to the entire school. Mmm. Smooth.

From football to football to baseball in December, Zach Baker gets all up in the Giants' grill and oh-so-unsubtlely suggests to them that perhaps they shouldn't have invested in Barry Bonds for $16 million.

GAMING

From Gaming Editor Ken Edwards:

Aaron Auzins reviews Guitar Hero II for the PS2. How do you make 2005's best rhythm game even better? Release a sequel.

Jason "Njiska" Westhaver reviews Phoenix Wright – Justice For All (JP) for Nintendo DS. Farewell, My Turnabout.

Aaron Auzins interviews Dennis Lee of Konami, in which Lee details Konami's effort to build a franchise from the ground up for the Nintendo Wii.

SCI/TECH

From Technology Editor Daniel Woolstencroft:

Aurel Montgomery tells us of The Man Who Was Sagan, a great tribute to a great man.

Eric Olsen's Strong Brands Balm Consumer Brains, New Study Shows, dares to enter the mind of that complex beast, the consumer.

From Science Editor John Vaccaro:

If your computer died tomorrow, would you be able to recover your data from other sources? Our own Daniel Woolstencroft gives us options to back up all the data of your digital life in How Safe Is Your Digital Life-Data?

COMMENT OF THE WEEK

From Comments Editor Christopher Rose:

To a European, the Politics section of Blogcritics can often seem a bewildering place, rather like a cross between "Alice in Wonderland" and "One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest". Fortunately, we can rely on commenters like this to keep the worst delusions in check…

Posted by RJ Elliott to A New Plan For Iraq – Give It To The Chinese on 2006.12.05, 06:13:20 AM :

I hope you aren't being serious about this, Dave.

There are two possibilities:

1 – China laughs at us and tells us to go fuck ourselves. We are embarrassed, and the situation on the ground does not change a bit. I think that's about 90% likely.

Or…

2 – China takes us up on the offer. (About 10% likely.) What we have done then is just take a region of the world that is at least currently somewhat within our sphere of influence, and HANDED IT OVER to the RED CHINESE. The Chi-Comms, for goodness sake. In other words, our ENEMY.

They take control, slaughter anyone and everyone who opposes them, and they veto any UN action against them in response to the butchery. US forces are now outnumbered and are forced to flee Iraq. China now has complete control over massive oil reserves. They ship everything back home. The surplus oil (if there is any) is sold back to us at a premium. They make "deals" with other nations in the region to oppose US foreign policy.

When China decides to invade Taiwan, we are unable to respond lest our oil supplies be cut off. We are also unable to do anything meaningful at the UN. Taiwan falls. North Korea is fed a free flow of oil by their Commie allies, and they are encouraged to menace and distract us while China consolidates its gains in the Middle East.

Sure, a lot of Chinese die in the process. But do they care? No. There are plenty more where they came from! And there is no free media in China to report on this, and bring the Chinese people into the streets in opposition. (That's a rather huge advantage they have over us…)

So, the end result is a bunch of former "allies" in the Middle East who now are overt enemies; less US control of global oil supplies; increased power for Red China; Humiliation for the US; roll-back of democracy; and energy prices for the West even higher than they are now.

Hey, sounds like a winning plan! :-/

About Lisa McKay

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