Wednesday, December 31, 2008

So Long 2008 :: Happy New Year

A few weeks ago, I posted a list of the Best of 2008 which included links to various websites and blogs. The topics ranged from music, movies and books.

So I received a request from Lori Johnson over at Lori's Old School Mix asking me to list my personal best of 2008. Wow, what a challenge. I ingest such a wide range of media that I can barely recall what I consumed this past Monday. But I am certainly up for a challenge, right?

Needless to say, my list is short, but here goes:

Best book that I read:
  • "Kite Runner" by Khaled Hosseini (surprisingly I did not review this one ... and I did not see the movie ... duh). The book was vividly written w/lots of mystery and excitement on nearly every page.
Best movie that I saw:
  • "Waitress" (thanks to a recommendation from my sister; Andrienne Shelly is genius ... oh, and I did not write a review on this one either ... another duh). This one is funny, romantic and Andy Griffith is quite endearing. Love this movie.
Best Television Comedy - and remember that I don't have cable:
  • "30 Rock" Alec Baldwin, Tina Fey, Tracy Morgan, the ensemble cast and the guests are hilarious on so many levels.
Best artists and cds - you are not surprised that it is all hip hop ... :
Best website:
  • I love this aggregator site w/lots of topics to choose from,
Best Social Media platform:
  • Twitter ... I love twittering - using 140 characters to communicate and all of the Twitter tools.
  • Utterli ... I like being able to post pics, video, text and audio all from my cell phone. This should come in handy when I attend the Inauguration in a few weeks.
So long to 2008 and a great big hug for 2009 (and a smooch too)! Happy New Year!

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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

MOVIE REVIEW: "Slumdog Millionaire"

MOVIE REVIEW: "Slumdog Millionaire"

I've seen some good movies over the past few weeks, but I am just now getting around to writing about them.

First up is "Slumdog Millionaire". I've been hearing about this movie since at least October. Unfortunately, I don't live in or near a 'major' market. so I had to wait my turn to see it. I did catch it on its opening weekend in Cleveland. Saw it on the first showing on Bargain Monday @ the Cedar Lee. I think it was $5 and included a complimentary small popcorn. Nice.

I was anxious to see the movie because there was some acclaim swirling about ... the love story, the setting, the mystery. It was all of that. And a story that I have not quite seen on the big screen.

I mostly enjoyed this movie. The child actors were awesome. The dialogue and the plot were well written and executed. I would recommend that you see this one. I kinda figured out how it would end, but it was still intriguing to see how they'd get to the fore drawn conclusion.

Oh, and the one thing that really stood out for me was the music. I immediately noticed music from M.I.A. and I thought that I would jump out of my seat. The music was so rich in beats and drums and added energy to the action on the screen. The soundtrack was a wonderful treat for me.

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Monday, December 29, 2008

Music Monday 8 :: Lyle Lovett "I Will Rise Up"

I know you are thinking "what's with the Lyle Lovett"? This is definitely one of those "don't judge a blog post by its title" kind of things.

I heard Lyle Lovett & His Large Band recently perform this song on the "Tonight Show with Jay Leno". I had planned on turning the channel before they got in their groove, but they caught me off guard w/the slow pulsating rhythm of the song. It really does have some strength. Like an old slave song. Actually it is like an old prison work song. And apparently that was the objective according to some notes that I glanced at briefly.

The track is from Lovett's most recent release called "It's Not But, It's Large". Well, all rightee then.

Here is the link to the Imeem track:
I Will Rise Up / Aint No More Cane - Lyle Lovett & His Large Band

Here's a YouTube video of a live performance of "I Will Rise Up" - sweet:

Let me know what you think of this song and the Music Monday blog posts in general.

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Sunday, December 28, 2008

My Mom's Birthday Cake

Again, I am slow to post and what are the chances that I would have back to back blog posts about food? And cake at that?

Well, this was my Mom's birthday cake. Her birthday was a few weeks ago and we threw her a little surprise birthday party. It was cute.

The cake was awesome. I can't recall the name of the bakery in the Akron area, but the cake was delicious. There were two different custards inside, chocolate and vanilla with chocolate cake. I was not crazy about the frosting. I think it was just basic frosting and I like whipped cream frosting. Remember that for when my time rolls around.

I do like tasty treats and happy birthday cake falls into that category.

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Saturday, December 27, 2008

Sweet Potato Pound Cake

This image should have been posted some time ago, but better late than never, right?

My mom made a Sweet Potato Pound Cake for the Thanksgiving holiday. We'd never had one before. Actually we'd recently had a Sweet Potato Cake at a place called Catfish Fridays in D.C.

We retrieved the recipe from the Internet ... if I can find it, I will come back and update this post.

The pound cake was delicious. I really enjoyed it. Don't know if I would do anything different with it. I ate it plain, but I also had it warmed up w/some French Vanilla ice cream. Quite yummy that way.

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Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Music on Imeem

To get you in the holiday spirit, I've identified this Christmas music playlist on Imeem. Good stuff too: Donny Hathaway, The Whispers, Luther Vandross, Otis Redding, The Jackson 5, The Temptations and more.

I'm going to add a link. It seems when I embed a playlist, it takes forever for the home page to load.
Happy Holidays.

UPDATE: Since Imeem is no longer available, I've created another Christmas music playlist on MySpace.

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Monday, December 22, 2008

Music Monday 7 :: Christmas Music

It's Christmas time so why not a post about Christmas Music.

There are quite a few Christmas tunes that I enjoy. I would guess that you have your list as well. Here are some of mine:

"Someday At Christmas" by Stevie Wonder
"Santa Baby" by Eartha Kitt
"Merry Christmas Baby" by Charles Brown
"This Christmas" by Donny Hathaway
"Christmas Rappin'" by Kurtis Blow
and there so many more...

Do you remember that singer Alexander O'Neal had a holiday album - "My Gift to You"? Yeah, that was nice all the way through. I liked the title track as well as "Thank You for a Good Year".

Oh, and as I was seeking out my holiday music this year, I was looking for that Alexander O'Neal, but I did not find it. Instead I found "Christmas at Luke's House". As in Luther Campbell. Whhhoooa. I did not listen to it. But there is a track on there from H-Town and that said enough for me. I should stuff that in someone's stocking this year. ;-)

Here is NPR's Holiday Mix: "Jingle Jams - A Holiday Music Mix". I was a bit surprised to see Clarence Carter on the list. There are so many classics on this list and also some well known singers singing songs that I have not heard before like Ella Fitzgerald's "Santa Claus Got Stuck in my Chimney". Worth listening to, for sure.

Just a good time of year .... and good music too.

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Friday, December 19, 2008

How to Save a Few Dollars

There's a magazine called ShopSmart. It's a product of Consumer Reports. I must admit that I've never purchased it, but I have perused it at the local Barnes & Noble.

I like the brevity of it. Also, just chock full of good information.

In the October/November issue, there was an article titled "Web sites that can save you big". Again, such a wealth of information. I wrote some of the web sites down ... but then I toss the slip of paper in the trash, only to realize that I had visited the sites, but I did not book mark them. I then went to the ShopSmart web site to see if I could get the back issue.

They did better. The article is listed on the web site as a pdf download. How great is that?

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Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Finished Christmas Cookie Press Cookies

Here they are ... the finished Christmas Cookie Press Cookies. I do love these. So easy to make and so easy to eat up too.

I did use a rather simple recipe:
There are only an handful of ingredients. I did not use salt because the butter had salt.
2/3 cup sugar
1 cup butter
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

Quite yummy.

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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Check out Wordle

I've been trying to do a Wordle for sometime now, but I've had problems of some sort. But now I am on my Mom's laptop and it worked like a charm.

Anyway, here is a Wordle on my most recent Tweet Stats. That's the statistics from my Twittering.

So enjoy this though I see that it is not the best picture. A bit fuzzy it seems. My apology.

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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Christmas Cookies

Making some cookie press cookies

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Monday, December 15, 2008

Music Monday 6 :: Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings

I've known about Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings for several years. Awesome group. But did I really pay attention all those years ago? No ... but what I've missed is sorely my loss. Love their sound. Her voice is - I hope that you don't mind the cliche' - soulful. It's hearty and full and speaks volumes. Their sound is such a throwback. And worlds away from pop radio. And that is a good thing. Even knowing that I am a fan of pop radio - in some ways.

Check the vid which also has that vintage vib:

Good stuff.

Other Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings Resources:

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Saturday, December 13, 2008

The Best of 2008 Lists

I love lists. I know, you'd never know because I don't post many of them.

But it's that time of year when lists are being compiled. Lots of lists, covering a variety of topics. I thought I'd save you the hassle and create a one-stop-shop for some of The Best of 2008 Lists.



Music Videos:


Do you know of any 2008 lists? Pass the info along. I'd love to see what I am missing.

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Thursday, December 11, 2008

Late lunch @ Mitchell's Fish Market

Lobster Pot Pie

It was delicious. A bit too creamy cheesy. I'd like less of that sauce. Maybe even a light alfredo/white sauce.

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BOOK REVIEW: "Casanegra: A Tennyson Hardwick Novel" by Blair Underwood

"Casanegra: A Tennyson Hardwick Novel" by Blair Underwood w/Tananarive Due and Steven Barnes was a good read. Not awesome or incredible, but pleasant and easy.

Interestingly enough, it took me too long to finish the book - just not motivated enough. Not to mention that I had to be helped along w/the audio version of the book. This was a selection for my reading group and I was on deadline. The audio reading was okay.

I thought the book was often hokey and corny. It was also predictable in some regards. And it wraps up oh so nicely w/the actor/sleuth beating death umpteen times and emerging as the victor. Of course. There was an interesting time or two. Like one of the minor characters who was loud and rambunctious.

I am now wondering if and when this will make it to the big screen. I'm sure that was the goal from the onset. And it that doesn't happen, well, the second Tennyson Hardwick tale is already available: "In the Night of the Heat: A Tennyson Hardwick Novel".

Other "Casanegra: A Tennyson Hardwick Novel" resources:
So that's all the reading for the group for 2008. Overall, nice selections. I am looking forward to compiling the reading list for '09.

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Monday, December 08, 2008

Music Monday 5 :: Playing For Change

Okay, I had not planned on blogging about this, but I hipped my mom to a blog and this video was posted on that blog. My mom promptly called me and said "they are jammin"! Followed by something like "... you need to stop what you are doing and check out this video." She really likes the song.

So the video is a group doing a cover of Ben E. King's "Stand By Me". I do like King's version. I like it a lot. But I am also a fan of improvisation. The concept on the Playing For Change version is incredible.

I am loving my Music Mondays. There is so much ground to cover in this area. There is one song I want to blog about but week after week I can not remember the name of the song or the artist. I can vague recall the hook of the song and I am just trying to remember the hook. It was really popular a few years back and I am tempted to call some of my former students and ask them to "Name That Tune".

Meanwhile, if there is a song or some music that you'd like to share, pass it on. I'd love to hear from you.

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