Since everyone else is doing it and I'm not one to make waves or even ripples, here's my quick review of the year that's almost over:
No, not Superman Returns specifically, although I did like that movie. I just mean Superman in general. It was good to see him back in the public consciousness in a big way, even if the new film was viewed as a financial disappointment. I became obsessed with Superman again sometime in June before Superman Returns came out, so I took a trip back to my childhood and watched the first three Christopher Reeve Superman movies from the late '70s and early '80s. Superman III (1983) sucks for the most part, but Superman (1978) and Superman II (1980) still have some great moments a quarter century later. And Christopher Reeve is perfect as Superman. It's too bad that he became defined by the role, but he worked some magic that endures to this day by taking his characters—Superman and Clark Kent—seriously even when his directors didn't.
2. THE BEES
This pop band from Nashville unfortunately have to put "U.S." in parentheses after their name because of a band with the same name over in the UK. The (American) Bees' second album, 2006's High Society, contains 11 songs, only one of which can be considered filler. That's not easy to do, and remember, it's their second album, the one that often causes bands to choke and then change their plan of attack for their third effort. Daniel Tashian, who played guitar on Josh Rouse's 2005 album, Nashville, is the lead singer and songwriter for the Bees, and like Rouse, he has a gift for striking melodies and arrangements. The Bees will rock you, albeit gently. Buy their album. While you're at it, buy their Nashville colleagues' stellar 2006 albums as well: Rouse's Subtitulo, David Mead's Tangerine, and Curt Perkins's Get Something Started. The Nashville pop renaissance excites me. I can't wait to hear what all of these guys come up with in the next few years.
3. THE LEMONHEADS
When I first heard an advance copy of the Lemonheads' new self-titled album, their first in ten years, I didn't like it. Then I listened again. And again. I still didn't like it that much. I expect instant gratification from head lemon Evan Dando, a master of kickass hooks, but the hooks didn't seem to be there the first few go-rounds, and his voice seemed tired. I was pretty disappointed. Then I listened one more time to "No Backbone," the first of the album's tracks that was released to the blogosphere. Hey, wait a second ... this sounds good. This sounds really good! And now most of the other songs are starting to sound good too! "Black Gown," "Become the Enemy," "Pittsburgh," "Poughkeepsie," "Rule of Three," "Baby's Home," "Steve's Boy" ... Dando, you did done it again, you sly dog. I'm sorry I doubted you.
4. MURS and 9th WONDER
I wrote about this rapper-producer duo's most recent album back in September. You can read about it here if you want.
5. PAUL STANLEY
The bootleg CD that was created from the Kiss lead singer's between-song banter, People, Let Me Get This Off My Chest, was one of the best things I discovered this year. I'm serious, you guys! You can download all 70+ tracks from the CD here if you want. Some people like to laugh at Le Starchild for the silly things he says onstage, but I don't. The man is clearly milking a stage persona for all it's worth, and it seems to be worth quite a lot. Bottom line: Paul Stanley is rich and we're not, so who's laughing now? I salute you, Kiss Army general. Your androgynous rock 'n' roll shriek brought me much joy in 2006.
6. MUSIC BLOGS
I heard a lot of good music, new and old, this year thanks to blogs like Jeff Giles's, Jason Hare's, Heather Browne's, that guy named John who likes forgotten '80s music, and that girl named Kelly in Cincinnati who likes soundtracks from '80s movies. Thanks for the songs, the education, and the friendly e-mail replies.
7. LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE
I meant to write about this movie in October right after I saw it, but I forgot. But now that I have a deadline to meet for a friend's project and would rather procrastinate by writing blog entries, let's talk about Little Miss Sunshine! It's the best movie I've seen since Minority Report in 2002; by that I mean it's the first movie in four years that's made me immediately want to see it again and even look forward to seeing it years from now in the hopes that it still holds up. Sunshine was so good in its first hour that I was scared the final 30 minutes would ruin what had come before it by selling out the characters or wrapping the story threads up too neatly. Luckily, the third act was just as good as the first two. The movie's first-time directors, Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, pulled off a small miracle with this one.
We're still at war? In two different countries? Bummer.
2. NO HUGGY, NO KISSY
I didn't go out on any dates in 2006. Therefore I had no girlfriend in 2006. I tried to go out on some dates, but I got rejected. Oh well, it happens. The one woman I would like to ask out that I can't ask out, seeing as how she's a happily married mother of two, did tell me a few weeks ago that I have "a fantastically sexy voice." That compliment made my month. And since nothing else this year came close to topping it, I guess it made my year.
Wow, it's gotten pretty bad, hasn't it? Like with blogs and stuff. Do I really care what some jerk in Phoenix did today at work before he went home and watched The Office? No, I don't. I only care about myself, and I have 1. 7 readers who feel the same way. Hey, 0.7 of them are calling me right now! Gotta go! (Wasn't I the cutest at age five? Tell me about it! Seriously, tell me about it in the comments section.)
Bring on 2007.