Friday, December 16, 2011

ten of eleven (part one)

This is that list-making time of year.

Yesterday, Sara Zarr posted on Twitter a congratulatory tweet to the authors whose books were named to Los Angeles Public Library's Best Young Adult Books of 2011. (The link is at the end of this post)

Stick is on that list.

In fact, it is a very good list that includes outstanding titles.

And it is alphabetized.

This is why I love librarians. Not because of the alphabetical order thing, because they read books, and they connect human beings to them... even the small quiet books that kind of sit in the back of the room and don't get noticed. Like Stick. Like the kid in Stick.

So, thank you very much LAPL.

And, speaking of lists:

I'm sure I wasn't the only one who started thinking back in October about what might possibly be the ten best albums of 2011.

I was out to dinner early that month with my friend Yvonne, and I said something like this: "It is not a very impressive year for music."

She agreed.

There were some bright spots, however.

But I just need to get a few sour notes off my chest.

Part 1: Sour Notes

Two things strike me about 2011: First, 2011 seems like it was the year for very short albums. Like, playtimes you'd expect from an EP or shit like that. And, second, it seems the philosophy of If you throw enough shit at the wall, some of it is bound to stick has become a sort of categorical imperative for 2011.

Unfortunately, I now have some shit stuck to my wall.

1. Colin Meloy.

Oh bespectacled Oberon to the kingdom of the hip! You, Colin Meloy.

Know this: I love the Decemberists.

But... Colin... I'd like to believe that maybe you just put all your creative energy and talent into writing a children's book.

But... um... I read that book, and that can't possibly explain it.

What the fuck is going on?

If writing a children's book explains the sterile porridge of The King is Dead, maybe you should have considered producing a textbook on multivariate Calculus, or some shit like that.


Please, for the love of God, Colin Meloy do not write another children's book.

2. Thom Yorke.


I also love Radiohead.  

King of Limbs? Not so much.

Maybe Thom might consider writing a children's book.

About dancing.

3. Ian Felice.

Listen: I believe the Felice Brothers are the greatest American band playing.You did not need to put out that album, though.

Ian, do not write a children's book. You are a singular talent. Your paintings are amazing, and your songwriting is perfection. This was an off-year. I will give you that.

Please come back.

4. Stephen Malkmus.

Oh saggy Peter Pan!


The Jicks album constructed a gaudy sonic McMansion from the beloved chicken coop of jangle and lyric that was Pavement.

There is something wrong with that.

I had a talk with my son about this.

It went something like this:

ME: The Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks album sounds so slick and tight and overproduced. I wish he would get wasted or something and make it sound and feel like Pavement.

SON: Yeah, but the songwriting is there, isn't it?

ME: Well. Songs have been written. That's for sure. I can't fairly compare them to the substance of songs like Grounded or Shady Lane, and there's something about an all-grown-up Stephen Malkmus singing about not being able to do one sit-up that is not nearly as romantic as hearing the same cynical self-rebuke coming from the awkward Stephen Malkmus who fronted Pavement.

SON: You are my fact checking cuz.

ME: An island of such great complexity.

I could rant for hours about the musical yawns of 2011.

I suppose I just did.

But there were some great things, too.

Part 2: An Admonition

Oh wait.

I just thought of something I wanted to rant about first, before I get to my picks for the best 10 albums of 2011.

It is this: I bought all these albums. I did not illegally steal them from the artists. I paid for them. I paid for a lot of albums that were not so good, too. That is why I have shit sticking to my wall.

The following ten treats make me feel not-so-ripped-off.

(You will have to wait until tomorrow to see my list of the Ten Best Albums of 2011...)

You can see the Los Angeles Public Library's Best Young Adult Books of 2011 here.