Duff’s Favorite Tunes 2008

This is pretty redundant at this point, not only because it’s nearly the end of March, but considering I did monthly reviews of pretty much everything I bought in 2008, as well as occasionally posting thoughts on individual albums. (I may have skipped things like “CDs bought in foreign countries” and such.) But this makes those “give me some music ideas” emails less annoying.
(with links to Snip commentary. sometimes.)
Favorite Albums:
Matt Costa “Unfamiliar Faces” Quirky and unexpected. Fave songs: “Mr. Pitiful” and “Miss Magnolia”
Bon Iver “For Emma, Forever Ago” Swoon. I know all the cool kids had this album in 2007. I ain’t that cool, yo. Love the album, love him in concert (see Favorite Gigs category down at the bottom). Love love love. Fave song: Re: Stacks
Jesse Malin “Glitter in the Gutter” Rockin’. Can’t even pick a fave song, just love the entire thing.
Fleet Foxes Listening to FF is like sitting in a field of daisies in 1973 while people around you kiss and weave each other bracelets. May be a bit ‘twee for some. (But it’s so pretty!) Fave Songs: “White Winter Hymnal” “He Doesn’t Know Why” “Your Protector” “Oliver James”
Earlimart “Hymn & Her” With every album they just get better and better. Pretty and intimate. Fave songs: “Time for Yourself” “For the Birds” “Town Where You Belong”
My Morning Jacket “Evil Urges” I lovelovelove this album. But I did NOT like “Z”. At all. If you peruse le Internet, you may find that everyone who liked this album was not much of an MMJ fan before, and those who were, were greatly disappointed. Ah well. Fave song: “I’m amazed”
Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin “Pershing” I didn’t even listen to this album until months after I bought it. Which is just so wrong ‘cuz it’s so good. Fave song: “Heers”
Carla Bruni “Comme si de rien n’etait” Her french albums just take my breath away. Why do I even pretend to try to learn this language? I’ll never sound like this when I speak. Fave song: “Tu Es Ma Came”
The Submarines “Honeysuckle Weeks” Has the same intimate boy/girl vibe of Earlimart but more poppy, more upbeat. It just grew on me more and more as the year went by. Fave songs: “Swimming Pool” “You, Me and the Bourgeoisie”
Keane “Perfect Symmetry” This one totally took me by surprise. Fave songs: “Better than This” “Time to Go” “The Lovers Are Losing”
Runners Up


Favorite 2008 Artist Not Mentioned Anywhere Above:
Joseph Arthur who put out FOUR EPs (“Crazy Rain” “Could We Survive” “Vagabond Skies” and “Foreign Girls”) as well as joining with the Lonely Astronauts for a full album (“Temporary Peple”). Which puts him at ridiculous output levels, along the lines of Ryan Adams and Joe Purdy. I really loved all the EPs; the full album is good, just not quite at their level. Fave songs: “Slow Me Down” “Lovely Cost” “Radio Euphoria”
Guilty Pleasure: Shwayze
Violent-Femme reminiscent: Wave Pictures “Instant Coffee Baby”
Dance, dance, dance: Cut Copy “In Ghost Colours”; Dan le Sac vs. Scroobius Pip “Angles”
Favorite Singles: (not on any of the aforementioned albums)


Favorite Covers:

  • “Folsom Prison Blues” Everlast (Johnny Cash) This is just so many times awesome. The whistly horse sound? Yeesss.
  • “Forever Young” Audra Mae & Forest Rangers (Rod Stewart) Featured on Sons of Anarchy.
  • “Tiger Mountain Peasant Song” First Aid Kit (Fleet Foxes) Even prettier than the original. Super spooky.
  • “I Should Have Known Better” She & Him (Beatles) You really can’t go wrong with a Beatles cover. Myself, I would go with “Run for Your Life”.

Favorite Gigs:
So I sorta went to 70 shows in 2008. I’d totally say that next time I wonder how I’m wasting all my time away, you could just yell “Concerts!” except I seem to have SERIOUSLY turned this trend around in 2009 (three months in and I’ve only been to two shows. What?!?). Anywho… 10 of those 70 were openers, so it was really only 60 shows. And 6 were at Monolith, 5 at Lollapalooza and 13(!) at Pitchfork, so you know, that’s really like seeing 24 sets at three shows so… Anyway, my favorites were:

  • Bon Iver Who I saw three times but my favorite was the second time which was at Lakeshore Theater, which is literally around the corner from home. and has seats. yay for both, says the old lady.
  • Crowded House Mostly because they sing my favorite song of all time and I’ve only been waiting to see these guys live practically my entire adult life. And yes, I know it’s not the FULL original lineup.
  • Matt Nathanson More for his humorous banter than for the tunes.
  • Earlimart. So so pretty.
  • Avett Brothers. These guys could fill up the world with their sound.
  • Band of Horses. A truly magical moment at Monolith.
  • Great Lake Swimmers. FINAFUCKINGLY.
  • Mumford and Sons. So unexpected.

GirlReaction Reads: Favorites of 2008

So I only read 79 books in 2008 which is definitely on the low end for me. Then I checked the numbers and found that I have read fewer books each year since 2004. What’s up with that? 2004 = 114, 2005 = 96, 2006 =87, 2007 = 85 and now 2008 = 79. This is NOT a trend I want to see continuing…but since I’ve already read more than 20 books in 2009 so far…I *think* it may be under control.
As with other lists, this is not necessarily books published in 2008, it’s books I read in 2008, regardless of when published.
My Favorite Ten Books of 2008 Were:
(in chronological order of my reading, with links to my Snip reviews)


Runners-Up Were:

Breaking things down in the manner of Ex Libris, of the 79 books I read:

  • 10 were short-story collections, either by one author or by various authors. Part of that was by design (Dad and I read short stories every other month for our 2008 challenge). And part because Elizabeth Crane got me all excited about short stories a couple years ago and I read them much more now than I did in the past.
  • Eight were non-fiction, but since five of those were BStarG nonfiction…well, that’s more a TV thing than a “me reading non-fiction” thing. So it’s more like three were non-fiction.
  • And two were poetry. But I don’t always put the poetry on the list, particularly if it’s a re-read, so that may not be totally accurate.
  • Not counting the BStarG non-fiction, there were eight authors I read more than one book by: five with two reads (Nick Hornby, David Malouf, Dick Francis, Rita Mae Brown, Lee Child); one with three (Paul Park), and two tied for most repeats with six reads, those authors being Harlan Coben and Patricia Briggs. Coben writes the Myron Bolitar mysteries, which I do enjoy, although I find I enjoy them less as the series has gone on (see the last one I read). Patricia Briggs writes truly fantastic sci fi and fantasy, some set in that indefinable middle ages/medieval seeming world so typical of fantasy (try this or this), and some (the Mercy Thompson books) set in the modern day. Everything I’ve read by her I have loved and I would recommend all of it.

You can read reviews of other books I read in 2008 not discussed here if you search for their names on Snip or you can just click on “reading” in the categories list to read any/all comments I’ve taken the time to post. I’m always happy to talk books so feel free to email me (link in right column) if you want more details on one or another or if you want to recommend something you think I’d like!
Now back to the book I started today…

Duff’s Favorite Movies 2008

Why no I don’t find it odd at all to be doing my best-ofs in March, three months later. But thanks for asking.
And it’s probably worth mentioning once again that this represents WHAT I SAW in 2008. Not what was released in 2008.

So I saw 40 movies in the theater in 2008 (only counting the first viewing, per my usual) which would be pretty good…except for the fact that 15 of those were seen in 10 days in October at the Chicago Film Festival. So the rest of the year I saw only 25 films which averages out to two a month. Kinda lame. I don’t blame the lack of good movies however (come on); it’s really my preference for lying on the floor doing nothing that gets in the way. Bygones.
The Best Movies I Saw in 2008 Were:
(linked to my Snip reviews)
1. Iron Man. WIthout a fucking doubt. This SHOULD have won awards.
2. Milk. So well done.
3. Let the Right One In. Spooky!
4. Zach and Miri Make a Porno. Hilarious. Yet sweet.
5. Wanted. AWESOME. With a few plot holes. Bygones.
6. Hunger. So sad.
7. The Dark Knight. It wasn’t as good as IronMan. But it was good.
8. Tropic Thunder. Fucking pure hilarity.
9. Atonement. Gorgeous. Just as good as the book.
10. Leatherheads. Beautifully filmed. And I really do not care for Renee Z., yet she was unable to ruin it for me.
Other Movies I Really Liked, Include:
Redbelt. True, I may be the only person who saw it.
Cloverfield. COME ON PEOPLE. Monsters are good.
The Fall. So pretty.
The Duchess. So sad.
Sparrow. Quirky.
Burn After Reading. Look at the layer beneath.
Movies I Thought Were Overrated, Include:
Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist. Too pretentious. Too teenage.
Sex and the City. Too long, too superficial.
Two Lovers. We saw this at the aforementioned festival. It pretty much sucked. Now it’s out in theaters and getting RAVE reviews. SRSLY PEOPLE IT SUCKED.
Miss Pettigrew Lives for the Day. So wrong. Read the book instead.
There Will Be Blood. Great performance by DDL. But I don’t ever need to see it again. EVER.
Vantage Point. Too much of a mess. The more time you spend thinking about it, the more the filmmakers fucked this one up halfway through.
Movies I Thought Were Underrated:
Quantum of Solace. Yes, he needed to take his shirt off more. Yes, it’s a lot like Bourne. AND THAT’S A GOOD THING.
Be Kind, Rewind. Fun. and Sweet.
Wanted. Too many Jolie haters need to get over themselves.
The Worst Movies I Saw in 2008 Were:
Made of Honor. Too fucking horribly bad.
Two Lovers. See “Overrated” above.
North Starr. Too amateur.
Random Factoid
I actually saw TWO animated flicks in 2008 (Wall-E and Bolt!). And sort of enjoyed them. A little. I believe that’s unprecedented.

Duff Does Live Music 2008

  • The Sea and the Cake (12/31)
  • The Chandeliers (opener) (12/31)
  • My Morning Jacket (12/27)
  • Fujiya & Myagi (2nd x)(10/25)
  • Catie Curtis (10/4)
  • Ruthie Foster (opener) (10/4)
  • Liam Finn (& Eliza Jane) (10/2)
  • The Veils (opener) (10/2)
  • Johnny Flynn and the Sussex Wit (9/20)
  • Laura Marling (9/20)
  • Mumford and Sons (9/20)
  • We/Or/Me (9/20)
  • Band of Horses (Monolith)(9/14)
  • The Kills (2nd x)(Monolith)(9/14)
  • The Avett Brothers (Monolith)(9/14)
  • Vampire Weekend (Monolith)(9/13)
  • The Fratellis (2nd x)(Monolith)(9/13)
  • Cut Copy (Monolith)(9/13)
  • Sam Phillips (9/6)
  • Great Lake Swimmers (8/22)
  • She & Him (8/5)
  • The Raconteurs (lollapalooza) (3rd x) (8/1)
  • Cat Power (lollapalooza) (2nd x) (8/1)
  • Black Keys (lollapalooza) (8/1)
  • The Kills (lollapalooza) (8/1)
  • Rogue Wave (lollapalooza) (3rd x) (8/1)
  • Earlimart (7/26)
  • The Office (surprise openers billed as “Peter & the Rabbits”) (7/26)
  • Spoon (Pitchfork) (2nd x) (7/20)
  • Bon Iver (Pitchfork) (3rd x) (7/20)
  • Occidental Brothers Dance Band International (Pitchfork) (7/20)
  • Ghostface Killah & Raekwon (Pitchfork) (7/20)
  • The Apples in Stereo (Pitchfork) (7/20)
  • Boris (Pitchfork) (7/20)
  • The Dirty Projectors (Pitchfork) (7/20)
  • Jarvis Cocker (Pitchfork) (7/19)
  • The Hold Steady (Pitchfork) (4th? 5th? x) (7/19)
  • Dizzee Rascal (Pitchfork) (7/19)
  • Fleet Foxes (Pitchfork) (7/19)
  • Caribou (Pitchfork) (7/19)
  • A Hawk and a Hacksaw (Pitchfork) (7/19)
  • Lyle Lovett and His Large Band (Ravinia) (4th x) (7/11)
  • Feist (Ravinia) (7/10)
  • Mike Doughty (Taste of Randolph) (4th x) (6/20)
  • Robert Plant / Alison Krauss (Ravinia) (6/18)
  • Peter Mulvey (Old Town art fair) (4th x) (6/14)
  • Nada Surf (Ribfest) (6/8)
  • Sea Wolf (6/5)
  • The Long Blondes (5/24)
  • Crowded House (5/10)
  • Rogue Wave (2nd x) (4/19)
  • Girlyman (4/13)
  • Meg Hutchinson (opener) (4/13)
  • Bon Iver (2nd x)(4/10)
  • The Raveonettes (3/18)
  • Matt Nathanson (!!!) (3/17)
  • Dan le Sac vs. Scroobius Pip (3/12)
  • Carrie Newcomer (3/9)
  • The Spares (opener) (3/9)
  • Peter Mulvey (3rd x) (3/8)
  • Doug Hoekstra (opener) (3/8)
  • Griffin House (2nd x) (3/1)
  • Sons of William (opener) (3/1)
  • Kin (opener) (3/1)
  • James Blunt (2/22)
  • Sara Bareilles (opener) (2/22)
  • Jason Isbell (2/8)
  • Joe Henry (2/2)
  • Chris Connelly (opener) (2/2)
  • Bon Iver (1/18)

Books Read in 2008

  • The Scarecrow and His Servant, by Philip Pullman (12/29)
  • Disquiet, by Julia Leigh (12/28)
  • Silver Wings for Vicki, by Helen Wells (12/28)
  • If the River Was Whiskey, by T. Coraghessan Boyle (12/25) (stories)
  • Black & White, by Dani Shapiro (12/22)
  • A Spy in the Family; An Erotic Comedy, by Alec Waugh (12/22)
  • A Circle is a Balloon and Compass Both: Stories about Human Love, by Ben Greenman (12/21)
  • Tender Morsels, by Margo Lanagan (12/20)
  • The Trial, by Kafka (12/12)
  • Deaf Sentence, by David Lodge (12/3)
  • The Lover’s Knot, by Clare O’Donohue (12/1)
  • The Way of Shadows, by Brent Weeks (11/30)
  • The Oxford Book of Short Stories, edited by V.S. Pritchett (11/29)
  • The Conversations at Curlow Creek, by David Malouf (10/31)
  • The New Granta Book of the American Short Story, edited by Richard Ford (10/31)
  • Her Majesty’s Dragon, by Naomi Novik (10/19)
  • The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, by Stieg Larsson (10/09)
  • Iodine, by Haven Kimmel (9/24)
  • Sway, by Zachary Lazar (9/20)
  • Dead Boys, by Richard Lange (9/15) (stories)
  • The Man Without Qualities, Vol 1, by Robert Musil (9/7)
  • The Hob’s Bargain, by Patricia Briggs (8/19)
  • Bolt, by Dick Francis (8/11) (re-read, many times over)
  • Break In, by Dick Francis (8/11) (re-read, many times over)
  • Unmentionables, by Beth Ann Fennelly (8/3) (poetry)
  • Battlestar Galactica and Philosophy: Knowledge Here Begins Out There, ed. by Jason T. Eberl (8/3)
  • Breaking Dawn, by Stephenie Meyer (8/2)
  • The Likeness, by Tana French (8/2)
  • Peeps, by Scott Westerfeld (7/26)
  • Finding Battlestar Galactica, an Unauthorized Guide, ed. by Lynnette Porter, David Lavery, & Hillary Robson (7/24)
  • Absurdistan, A Novel, by Gary Shteyngart (7/20)
  • Trespass, by Valerie Martin (7/7)
  • Nothing to Lose, by Lee Child (6/29)
  • Dark Roots, by Cate Kennedy (6/25) (stories)
  • Lush Life, by Richard Price (6/23)
  • Life Class, by Pat Barker (6/16)
  • Battlestar Galactica: The Official Companion Season 3, by David Bassom (6/13)
  • Raven’s Strike, by Patricia Briggs (6/12)
  • The Farther Shore, by Matthew Eck (6/11)
  • Raven’s Shadow, by Patricia Briggs (6/10)
  • War with the Newts, by Karel Capek (6/9)
  • Battlestar Galactica: The Official Companion Season 2, by David Bassom (6/8)
  • Battlestar Galactica: The Official Companion, by David Bassom (6/6)
  • The Collected Stories, by Isaac Bashevis Singer (5/31) (stories)
  • The Final Detail, by Harlan Coben (5/24)
  • One False Move, by Harlan Coben (5/22)
  • Dragon Blood, by Patricia Briggs (5/20)
  • Dragon Bones, by Patricia Briggs (5/18)
  • The Devil of Nanking, by Mo Hayder (5/10)
  • Slam, by Nick Hornby (5/4)
  • Bad Luck and Trouble, by Lee Child (5/2)
  • Just One Look, by Harlan Coben (5/2)
  • Back Spin, by Harlan Coben (4/29)
  • The Death of Virgil, by Hermann Broch (4/28)
  • Fade Away, by Harlan Coben (4/28)
  • The Monsters of Templeton, by Lauren Groff (4/22)
  • Belong to Me, by Marisa de los Santos (4/18)
  • Drop Shot, by Harlan Coben (4/13)
  • The Watchman, a Joe Pike novel, by Robert Crais (4/5)
  • The Tourmaline, by Paul Park (3/30)
  • The Murder at the Vicarage, by Agatha Christie (3/26)
  • Let`s Talk About Love: A Journey to the End of Taste, by Carl Wilson (3/25)
  • The Naming of the Dead, by Ian Rankin (3/24)
  • Ms. Pettigrew Lives for the Day, by Winifred Watson (3/22)
  • The Hounds and the Fury, by Rita Mae Brown (3/20 or 21 while crossing international date line)
  • The Hunt Ball, by Rita Mae Brown (3/20)
  • The Complete Stories, by David Malouf (3/19) (stories)
  • The Meaning of It All: Thoughts of a Citizen Scientist, by Richard P. Feynman (3/3)
  • The Good Soldier Svejk, by Jaroslav Hasek (2/28)
  • The Faithful Spy, by Alex Berenson (2/19)
  • A Princess of Roumania, by Paul Park (2/18)
  • Iron Kissed, by Patricia Briggs (2/1)
  • You Must Be This Happy to Enter, by Elizabeth Crane (1/31) (stories)
  • Tree of Smoke, by Denis Johnson (1/29)
  • Fortunate Son, by Walter Mosley (1/27)
  • Dead I Well May Be, by Adrian McKinty (1/27)
  • Native Guard, by Natasha Trethewey (1/25) (poetry)
  • The Oxford Book of English Short Stories, edited by A.S. Byatt (1/24) (stories)
  • Housekeeping vs. the Dirt, by Nick Hornby (1/1)

Duff at the Movies 2008

  • Bolt! (12/28)
  • Milk (11/28)
  • Quantum of Solace (11/15)
  • Expresso Bongo (11/8) (1959)
  • Terribly Happy (Chicago Film Festival)(10/26)(Danish)
  • Snow (Chicago FIlm Festival)(10/25)(Bosnian)
  • Julia (Chicago Film Festival)(10/24)
  • Country Wedding (Chicago Film Festival)(10/24)(Icelandic)
  • The Girl by the Lake (Chicago Film Festival)(10/23) (Italian)
  • Two Lovers (Chicago Film Festival)(10/22)
  • Zach and Miri Make a Porno (Chicago Film Festival)(10/21)
  • Everlasting Moments (Chicago Film Festival)(10/21) (Swedish)
  • North Starr (Chicago Film Festival)(10/19)
  • Hunger (Chicago Film Festival)(10/19)
  • Surveillance (Chicago Film Festival)(10/18)
  • Sparrow (Chicago Film Festival)(10/18) (Chinese)
  • Let the Right One In (Chicago Film Festival)(10/17) (Swedish)
  • Wendy & Lucy (Chicago Film Festival)(10/17)
  • The Pleasure of Being Robbed (Chicago Film Festival) (10/17)
  • The Duchess (10/16)
  • Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist (10/5)
  • Burn After Reading (9/27)
  • Tropic Thunder (9/21)
  • Wall-E (8/9)
  • The Dark Knight (7/22)
  • Wanted (6/29)
  • The Fall (6/14)
  • Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (6/8)
  • Sex and the City (5/31)
  • Redbelt (5/25)
  • Iron Man (5/20)
  • Made of Honor (5/4)
  • Leatherheads (4/24)
  • Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day (4/12)
  • Be Kind, Rewind (3/2)
  • Vantage Point (2/24)
  • Cloverfield (2/18)
  • There Will Be Blood (2/10)
  • Beowulf (IMAX) (1/9)
  • Atonement (1/1)