Best Albums of 2007

By now, I would hope that you have looked over our list of the best albums of the past year on the BWC site proper, but many people were hoping that we would release our individual writers lists as well.

Instead of bogging down the main site with that information, I will do so here. Feel free to argue with us in the comments. Have a safe and happy new year y'all!!

Sam Albertson:

1. Do Make Say Think - You, You're A History In Rust
2. Most Serene Republic - Population
3. Caribou - Andorra
4. Radiohead - In Rainbows
5. Jens Lekman - Night Falls Over Kortedala
6. Beirut - The Flying Cup Club
7. Octopus Project - Hello, Avalanche
8. Luke Temple - Snowbeast
9. Menomena - Friend and Foe
10. Apostle of Hustle - National Anthem of Nowhere

Adam P. Newton:

1. LCD Soundsystem - Sound of Silver
2. Of Montreal - Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer?
3. Deerhoof - Friend Opportunity
4. Arcade Fire - Neon Bible
5. Maylene and the Sons of Disaster - II
6. Burial - Untrue
7. Broken Social Scene Presents: Kevin Drew - Spirit If...
8. Joanna Newsom & The Ys Street Band - EP
9. Justice - †
10. Radiohead - In Rainbows

John Pattison:

1. Wilco - Sky Blue Sky
2. Ryan Adams - Easy Tiger
3. White Stripes - Icky Thump
4. Bright Eyes - Cassadaga
5. The Avett Brothers - Emotionalism
6. Feist - The Reminder
7. Mary Gauthier - Between Daylight and Dark
8. V/A - I'm Not There OST
9. Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band - Magic
10. Derek Webb - The Ringing Bell

Michael Dallas Miller:

1. Arcade Fire - Neon Bible
2. JT and the Clouds - The City's Hot Yeah The City's Hot
3. Brother Ali - The Undisputed Truth
4. Miracle Fortress - Five Roses
5. Radiohead - In Rainbows
6. Iron and Wine - The Shepherd's Dog
7. Sunset Rubdown - Random Soul Lover
8. Kings of Leon - Because of the Times
9. Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals - Lifeline
10. Blue Scholars - Bayani

Jordan Green:

1. Menomena - Friend and Foe
2. Feist - The Reminder
3. Alex Dupree and the Trapdoor Band - Las Meridanzas
4. Spoon - Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga
5. Radiohead - In Rainbows
6. Dolorean - You Can't Win
7. Okkervil River - The Stage Names
8. Blitzen Trapper - Wild Mountain Nation
9. Andrew Bird - Armchair Apocrypha
10. St Vincent - Marry Me

Stephanie Nikolopolous:

1. Counting Crows - August and Everything After (reissue)
2. The Polyphonic Spree - The Fragile Army
3. Coconut Records - Nighttiming
4. Two Gallants - Two Gallants
5. Peter, Bjorn and John - Writer's Block
6. V/A - Once OST
7. Avril Lavigne - The Best Damn Thing
8. Tegan and Sara - The Con
9. Ingrid Michaelson - Girls and Boys
10. Arcade Fire - Neon Bible

Ariele Gentiles:

1. Bjork - Volta
2. Feist - The Reminder
3. Radiohead - In Rainbows
4. The Bird and the Bee - The Bird and the Bee
5. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah - Some Loud Thunder
6. Voxtrot - Voxtrot
7. Andrew Bird - Armchair Apocrypha
8. Jens Lekman - Night Falls Over Kortedala
9. Arcade Fire - Neon Bible
10. Electrelane - No Shouts, No Calls

Bob Ham:

1. Dungen - Tio Bitar
2. Spoon - Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga
3. Von Sudenfed - Tromatic Reflexxions
4. Dizzee Rascal - Maths and English
5. Electrelane - No Shouts, No Calls
6. Alasdair Roberts - The Amber Gatherers
7. Mother and the Addicts - Science Fiction Illustrated
8. Grinderman - Grinderman
9. Avey Tare/Kria Brekkan - Pullhair Rubeye
10. The Gena Rowlands Band - Flesh and Spirits

Chad Gibbs' Top 10 Numbers of 2007....

What? Everyone can do a top ten list but me?

10. 1
9. 2
8. 7
7. 12
6. 1,875,215
5. 3
4. 6
3. 0
2. 31
1. 6


2007's Best Songs (according to Jordan): #1

And the 2007's best song was...

#1: "1234" by Feist

It's sort of a shame this classic track will be forever remembered as an iPod commercial, but it least Apple got it out there. I wrote about this song not too long ago.

Update: And here's the actual new mix. I know you got some iTunes gift certificates from your aunt, and you're just going to spend it on some album you'll never listen to. Here's something you'll actually like!

We've got a great show for you tonight...

(Editor's Note: Aaron Donley's awesome list of late-night monologue jokes reviewing the year of 2007 has been removed. It will appear on the next issue of our main site.)


Reading Resolutions 2008

Inspired by Bryan's post, I wanted to write about my own goals for 2008.

My New Years resolutions usually involve books I want to read in the coming year. This year I resolve to read a few classic novels that I have never been able to finish, somewhat to my embarassment. They include:

1. Ulysses, by James Joyce. "Ulysses" is my white whale (see number 3). I've tried several times and once got two-thirds of the way through this massively difficult (but apparently rewarding) book. This year I'm fully committed. I named my nine week-old daughter after the heroine of "Ulysses," Molly Bloom, one of my favorite characters in all of literature.

2. The Brothers Karamazov, by Fyodor Dostoevsky. This was Dostoevsky's last novel and, by consensus, his greatest. Walker Percy, to whom I devoted one month of reading time in 2007, said something to the effect that "The Brothers Karamazov" was proof that novels could be about ideas, inspiring his own philosophical fiction.

3. Moby Dick, by Herman Melville.

4. Don Quixote, by Miguel de Cervantes. Considered by many to be the first novel (at least the first Western novel), "Don Quixote" tops nearly every list of all-time great books. Garcia Marquez (see number 6) read "Don Quixote" in the bathroom, reading one of the 120-odd chapters per sitting, ahem. I might put the "New Yorker" cartoons aside and do the same.

5. The "other two" parts of Dante's "The Divine Comedy." Thomas Merton thought "Paradiso" was the greatest of the trilogy. He wrote in his journal: "[Dante set out] to achieve a much higher kind of writing than in 'Hell' and 'Purgatory,' to fit his much higher subject: and he does...It is easier to communicate a clear idea of the obscurity of hell than a clear idea of the clarity and brilliance of heaven."

6. 100 Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Okay, I've read this one before. "Solitude" is my favorite book. I want to read it again and again and again. First line: "Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendia was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice."

Happy reading in 2008.

50 goals for 2008

I'm working on some goals for the upcoming year, mostly because i like telling people that i have goals. It makes you seem organized and driven, even if you never accomplish anything you set out to do.

Here's what i have so far...

Try to save a little more money.
Try not to get mad at my kids for accidents and spills.
Eat more pomegranates.
Get better at picking my nose so that I get the boogers out without making my nose bleed.
Try to make more eye contact with people when I talk to them.
Stop cracking my neck so much.
Cut down my alarm snoozing by 40%.
Order something at Red Lobster other than the Crab Alfredo.
Throw out all the pens in our house that don't really work any more.
More making out with my wife.
More uncomfortable references to "making out" in my blog posts.
Finish writing a book.
Avoid getting a tattoo.
Smoke a few more cigars.
Spend a little less time in my Google Feed Reader.
Turn 32 years old on September 28th.
Spend less time caring that I don't floss.
End the Writer's Strike with my bare hands.
Beat Chad Gibbs in a round of golf.
Play my guitar more.
Set foot in Oregon.
Punch Spencer from "The Hills" right in the face.
Play more Barbies with my daughter.
Vote for someone to be our next president.
Eat more salad and less cheez-its.
Make the "Play Artist Michael Bolton" joke whenever I get into a friend's car.
Cook dinner for my wife more often.
Talk to my dad on the phone more.
Get better at staying within our spending budget.
Avoid snorting cocaine.
Play more baseball with my son Parker.
Don't get head lice.
Write more love notes to my wife.
Drink more tea and less coffee.
Avoid getting a vasectomy reversal.
Dance with a ribbon in front of my church during worship.
Read Don Miller's new book.
Tell my kids I love them more.

Well, that's as far as I've gotten for now. Not quite 50, but it's a start. I'd love to hear what some of you all are looking to achieve in the year of our Lord two thousand and eight.

2007's Best Songs (according to Jordan): The Actual #2

Man...eight of these gone, I'm bored, and now I have to follow-up a parody of my own project?


Don't worry, I saved the best for last.

#2: "Underdog" by Spoon

What a great freaking song. Van Morrison revisited in the new millenium.


That was a GREAT Christmas

I hope everyone had a fantastic Christmas. For us, this will go down as one of the best in history. For one, it was Mindy and I's first Christmas together (she had usually been down in Southern California with her family). For two, it snowed. For three, the time with our family was wonderful. Finally, I attended the Blazer game that night, and they beat our hated rival to the north, Seattle.

Also, our section won six free wings from Buffalo Wild Wings.

I've told you about Advent Conspiracy, and it went over pretty well in my family. We gave to an orphanage in Nepal my brother is connected to, and we gave a few WorldVision ministries. My aunt Laura contributed to International Justice Mission in my name.

I still got some gifts...I was greatly in need of an external harddrive...but it felt good to back off. Here's hoping next Christmas is even less about buying and more about Jesus.

Here's Rick and Jeanne McKinley, our pastor and his wife, being interviewed on NPR.org about Advent Conspiracy. I've known them since I was in 6th grade. They're the greatest.

proof of idiocy #4815162342

For the past 3 years I have hidden things in our family Christmas cards. Sadly, there are few things give me more joy than doing so.

It started in 2005, as i was photoshopping up a nice christmas card for our family. I was a huge fan of LOST at the time (still am) and decided I would hide the LOST numbers in our card. Since the main photo was of our family on the beach, i hid the numbers (4 8 15 16 23 42) in the breaking waves. I also hid a nearly transparent image of John Locke's face in the lower right corner of the card. Everyone I told this to had a blast looking for the numbers, so I decided to make it a yearly tradition.

In 2006 our card looked like this:

if you looked really closely at the bottom of the tree that my kids colored, you could see this:

(they're still tough to make out, but the numbers are there in blue font)

This year, our Christmas card looked like this:

other than photoshopping a new head onto my son (because we didnt have one single picture in which we were all smiling) i also threw the numbers in again.

the payoff is, of course, that nowadays people look forward to getting my card so they can find the numerical waldo. this year when my wife passed out christmas cards to some friends at church, the first thing they all did was immediately start looking for something hidden. Turns out I'm not the only one who enjoys my idiocy.

and while we're here, LOST returns on January 31st, so set your TiVos, rewatch last season's finale if you can, and prepare to be captivated once again.

2007's Best Songs (according to Jordan) #2

#2 "It's Good to be Us" by Bucky Covington

The long haired country boy from American Idol shows us his fun side with 2007's It's Good to be Us. I wonder how many of you will notice that Jordan didn't actually write this? I hope none, because Jordan really does love Bucky, I've seen the posters in his bedroom. It is scary.


2007's Best Songs (according to Jordan): #3

#3: "Country Caravan" by Blitzen Trapper

This might not be a fun video to watch, but there were only two songs the whole year more fun to listen to than the rollicking "Country Caravan" from Portland band Blitzen Trapper.

2007's Best Songs (according to Jordan): #4

#4: "Eye In The Sky" by Viva Voce

I couldn't find a link to this song, either. It's available on the "Bridging the Distance" compilation put out by p:ear, which features a bevy of excellent cover songs performed by Portland bands. What's more: proceeds go to a good cause. You get a great song, and homeless youth get a shot at something more...it's a win-win.

Even with the Decemberists, Britt Daniel, and Blitzen Trapper contributing, Viva Voce's "Eye in the Sky" is the best offering, a lurking and sexy update of an Alan Parsons Project. Along with "Eye in the Sky", you'll also recognize an added intro: a brief cover of "Sirius". So what if you only know it from Chicago Bulls player introductions circa-when the Bulls were good.


Merry White Christmas!

Happy Christmas from the Greens.

We're in the middle of opening Christmas, and my dad says, "IT'S SNOWING!!!"

I've never seen a white Christmas. It's certainly special. It's still coming down, sticking and building little drifts. It's crazy.

That's my childhood home, by the way. From left: future addition Mindy, my mom and I, my dad, my sister Kailyn (she's holding a ballet barre), and my brother Tyler.

Have a wonderful day, everyone!

2007's Best Songs (according to Jordan): #5

Merry Christmas!

#5: "Wet and Rusting" by Menomena

The outro is what gets me: "It's hard to take risks/When you're a pessimist", with that crazy drumming all rat-ta-tatting. Also, I do believe my friend Steve's hairstylist appears in this video. My friend Steve has a hairstylist.


2007's Best Songs (according to Jordan): #6

#6: "Muscle'n Flo" by Menomena

If you can briefly put up with Juan, who apparently has a famous basement, you'll be subject to an excellent live version of my first favorite song off "Friend and Foe". This is good, because you get to watch Danny Seim drum, which is pretty much what I do when I see Menomena live.


In My Fantasies, I'm Winning

The BFFL (Burnside Fantasy Football League) Championship is in full swing.

This year's matchup features the Sellwood Seal Clubbers, lead by yours truly, and the Pool Bums, lead by International Bible Society Editor Paul Berry.

You'd think I'd win outright just based on team name alone, but championships are won on the field. By other people.

And right now, Paul leads 31.9-7.0. To give you some context, average scores reach in the 80's. Cleveland Browns quarterback Derek "Horse Balls" Anderson has so far had decidely un-horse-like balls, reminding me again never to trust Oregon State Beavers.

It's not over. Not by a long shot...I've still got Purple Jesus playing tonight...but it doesn't look promising at this point. Pool Bums tight end Dallas Clark is channeling his Madden NFL 2007 doppleganger.

Lunch Break Update: Anderson managed to throw four picks, but still ended up with 21.1 points. Unfortunately, Paul's quarterback is God's favorite son: Kurt Warner. He's got 30.5 points.

Pool Bums final score is 98.8. Sealclubbers have 51.2 with Brandon Marshall, San Diego's defense and Adrian Peterson left to play. We won't know the final outcome until tomorrow night.

2007's Best Songs (according to Jordan): #7

#7: "Earth Mouth" by Alex Dupree and the Trapdoor Band

No video for Alex, but I do have a link to the song. Please listen to "Earth Mouth". Please do it now.

By far the best lyrics of the year, a song with epic imagery and Dylan-esque mystery. Alex played a show here in Portland, and I asked him what the song meant. He told me he had no idea.


Because it's tradition that's why. (And Gibbs loves it.)

2007's Best Songs (according to Jordan): #8

#8: "Thirteen" by Elliott Smith

Alex Chilton's original version of "Thirteen" is wistful with a touch of melancholy. Elliott Smith's rendition is dangerously heart-breaking, and this video of him...it's just a gut punch.


The Sweet Taste of Holiday Vengeance

Revenge is not uniquely American, but it is a value Americans would have difficulty ignoring. From our films to our fiction to real world events like capital punishment and war, we relish the image of wrongdoers brought to their knees. We hope to see that moment of realization as our enemies are at death's door.

The love of vengeance, like many sins, is birthed from a noble base: we want to see justice done. For Christians, the tension can be almost unbearable...God's grace can extend to a serial killer? I've tried to follow a righteous path, and that guy gets in?

And while revenge is a dish best served cold, it's water crackers compared to the Thanksgiving spread of forgiveness, illustrated so anti-poignantly by a brilliant SNL retelling of the Christmas classic "It's a Wonderful Life".


2007's Best Songs (according to Jordan): #9

#9: "Rotten Hell" by Menomena

This isn't the last Menomena song on this list. Over the last year, my favorite track on "Friend and Foe" has rotated four times. But the videos for those songs don't feature a slow motion food fight that ends so horribly.


2007's Best Songs (according to Jordan): #10

From 2000-2005, I compiled a list of my top ten albums of the year and sent it to everyone I knew. It usually got a good reception from the few that read it.

But now I've got Burnside, and Music Editor Bob Ham took ballots the other day from each of our music writers and will compile an official Burnside Top Ten Albums List. I'm genuinely giddy with anticipation to see what we've picked.

But I have no idea if any of my albums will show up on that list, so I decided to list my top ten songs of the year over the next ten days.

Here we go:

#10: "My Body is a Cage" by Arcade Fire

This video, which isn't the official music video, is pretty hardcore. It's got clips from the spaghetti western "Once Upon a Time in the West", with Charles Bronson and Henry Fonda.

I'm not sure the video captures the essence of the song, turning it from a lamentation to a revenge oath.

But "My Body is a Cage" is a hymn, even if it is darkly rendered.


What the...!?!?

Apparently, some Christians believe I-35 is a "Holy Highway".

I hate to be so disparaging, but what the hell? I'm also unclear as to the Holy Highway's purpose. Will Jesus drag race down it when He returns?

The Lord certainly moves in mysterious ways, and picking a patch of freeway that runs from Laredo, Texas to Duluth, Minnesota may be his most mysterious act yet. The road does hit BBQ epicenters like Dallas and Kansas City, so maybe the God's got a hankering for some brisket and burnt ends. I can't really blame him.

I might be biased, but part of me wants to hope God would prefer reclining against Mt. Hood and propping his feet across the Columbia Gorge and I-84 to gazing mournfully down on a city known best for Jerry Jones, a presidential assassination, and Debbie.

Build-A-Movie Game Take 2

Well, we had some fun with the last installment of the Build-A-Movie Game, so let's go for another one.

Again, I will give you three actors/actresses and a genre, you give me the plotline of the film (in our comments section).

Good luck.

Tilda Swinton

Andy Milonakis

Roberto Benigni

Genre: Psychological Thriller

The Great Republican Divide

For the last eight years, the Republican Party ran the political arena on a tight alliance between Evangelical Christians and secular conservatives.

That alliance is in peril, and not by the scores of former Republicans who've switched parties or turned Independent (I'm one of the latter).

No, it's Christian Conservatives who are throwing a wrench into the works.

With Mike Huckabee leading in the primaries, secular Conservatives are getting mad. Huckabee, they say, has no chance at winning in a general election. The vast voting bloc they've relied on so heavily isn't quite so in tune this time around.

But Evangelical Conservatives have always voted on principles, and I can't blame them. In fact, I'm proud. My biggest fear this election was that Christian Conservatives would simply do what it takes to keep the GOP in the White House, even if that meant forgoing their basic issues.

And while I don't agree with some of Huckabee's stances, he's certainly been one of the more likable candidates. Take, for instance, his response to accusations he put a subliminal cross in one of his campaign ads. The idea that the cross in the background is subliminal is hilarious, but even if it was true...the guy's an ordained Southern Baptist minister!

I loved these two quotes:
Actually I will confess this, if you play this spot backwards it says ‘Paul is Dead, Paul is Dead, Paul is Dead,’” the presidential candidate joked to reporters in Houston Tuesday. “So the next thing you know, someone will be playing it backwards to find out the subliminal messages that are really there.

The former Baptist minister also shot back at some who said the spot should have been more inclusive, and that he should have wished voters “Happy Holidays.”

“I don’t know what else to call Christmas, last time I checked that is what we celebrate. If somebody can give me a way to get around that and do it honestly, then perhaps that’s what Christmas is,” said Huckabee.

“The very word Christmas comes from the contraction of 'Christ Mass' — the worship of Christ – again, change the word if we don't want to talk about it, but that’s what it symbolizes and represents.”

I'm loathe to get into a War on Christmas mentality, but, in the words of GOB Bluth, "Come on!" Isn't this the primary holiday we celebrate? Sure, there's New Years, and that's pretty non-faith and all. And there's Channukah, which is a great holiday for our Jewish brethern (1.8% of the American population). What else you got?

And if you're really so pissed off about Christmas and how it celebrates the Baby Jesus, look around! No one cares about that anymore! It's about Santa, and ham, and buying craploads of gifts! I just heard from a Hyundai commercial the other day it's about the word "duh"! Christmas is as Christ-based as St. Patrick's Day anymore.

Let's skip taking offense over "Merry Christmas". If you tell someone "Merry Christmas!" and he says, "Well, I'm Jewish," then you can say, "Well, Happy Channukah!" (

Problem solved.

(Note: Problem is not solved if you say 'Well, Happy Channukah' like a smartass. Say it happily, with a smile. Other people like it when you are kind.)

And while we're at it, let's stop worrying about what other people celebrate. If someone says, "Happy Holidays!", say it right back. And then try and refrain from grumbling about their PC wording. The majority of this country may celebrate Christmas, but it doesn't mean you get to be a jerk about it.


tales... episode 4 (the mall)

My wife and I mindlessly wander through the mall looking for Christmas presents. A pack of baggy-clothed teenagers walks by…

Me: There’s this skinny guy at my work who's always walking by my desk, and he's got a shaved head and is always wearing these long white t-shirts...

Wife: Uh-huh.

Me: ...So lately when he walks by I’ve been singing under my breath, “You’re beginning to look a lot like Krishna,” to the tune of, “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.”

Wife: Does he hear you?

Me: No. But it makes me laugh.

Wife and I drift into a clothing store. Wife casually fingers through rack…

Me: I think I’m going to make a t-shirt that says, “God is bald.” Wouldn't that make a great shirt? I would wear that.

Wife: (laughing) But that’s… sacrilegious.

Me: Sacrilegious! So it’s blasphemous to say God could be bald? I think I find that offensive.

Wife: But he has to have hair.

Me: That hurts.

Wife: The truth does.

Me: I know.

We leave the store, get smoothies, then walk into an overpriced toy store…

Me: (picking up football) You know probably the best present I ever received for Christmas was a football I got when I was ten that I lovingly named “Pneumonia.” (throws ball in air) -I tell ya, me and my brother would play outside for hours just trying to catch Pneumonia.

Wife: What, is this one of your bits?

Me: (ignoring her, putting ball back on shelf, staring off) In hindsight, I do believe my mom developed an unfounded hatred for that ball.

Wife: (no response, walks away, begins singing to self) "It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas..."

We leave the mall, having bought nothing, and listen to Charlie Brown Christmas on the ride home.

(Merry Christmas from the Donley's.)

Be a Man: Self Exam (or "Carpe Testes")

My friend James just got a dream job at a company called Struck Creative. I'm very happy for him.

Here's some work they've done. As you can see from the disturbing video below, they are quite figuratively "The Balls".

Let Me Count the Ways

The following was an email from my friend John Bachman.
The State of Oregon is turning out to be a NFL quarterback factory.

Off the top of my head guys who have started games this year:

AJ Feely
Joey Harrington
Kellen Clemens
Dennis Dixon (next year)

Oregon State:
Derek Anderson
Matt Moore

New University of Oregon recruiting motto: "16% of NFL teams chose the Ducks...why shouldn't you?"
Terrell Pryor, we're talking to you. Granted, it's not like we've got superstars at this point...why not be the first?


It's a Great Time to Be a Blazer Fan...For Now

Hi, I'm Dwight Jaynes, sportswriter for the Portland Tribune.

If you'll recall earlier in the year when the Blazers were losing games, I wrote a column about how I knew it would happen, about how they were too young to win.

At that time, I explained how every member of the mainstream media had the Blazers picked to go to the championship, but how I knew they wouldn't be that good. You stupid Portlanders were so content to be rooting for non-criminals that you idiotically believed the Blazers could build some chemistry and actually win some games.

Fortunately, my firm and guiding voice was there to pull you back from your lemming run.

Now the Blazers are shocking everyone. They're the second hottest team in the NBA. They're at .500. It may seem enigmatic to you, but I knew that would happen, too. I knew Channing Frye would have his best game in a Blazer jersey in Denver yesterday.

I also knew when the Oregon Ducks football team lost to California in October, their shots at a BCS Bowl were over. Here's the column to prove it. What I didn't say at that time was the Ducks would climb to the number two ranking in the nation before losing Dennis Dixon to a knee injury. (I was unclear on if it would be a ligament tear...it says right here on my October notepad: "Ligament tear?")

Here are things you should not get excited about: Greg Oden, the Blazers, the Ducks, the Beavers. Never, ever get excited about them, because there's a chance all of them will be awful.

Here's something to be excited about: Major League Baseball. Baseball is America's pastime! It is pure and exciting! Remember how Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa's homerun race galvanized a nation?



Maybe you've been exposed to this Hyundai commercial, and maybe you haven't, but please allow me to transcribe the opening line for you.
"Nothing says 'Happy Holidays' quite like the word 'duh'...as in, it's obvious!"
Really? Nothing?

Because I've never associated Christmas or New Years or Channukah with the word 'duh'. I even tried, after watching this commercial, to find the connection, and I've got nothing.

It's not just crap copywriting that makes this awful. It's also the singers. The awful-looking singers.

Just to wash away the taste Hyundai left in your mouth, here's another Christmastime commercial featuring "singers" and a brief glimpse of a Rashida Jones (pre-"Office" fame). Oh how my friends and I lived for that glimpse back in the day.


Mitchell what?

I know Jordan's currently working on a blog about the already infamous Mitchell Report, and though I generally loathe the amount of attention that sports receives (whenever the topic comes up, the line from Annie Hall always runs through my mind: "What is so fascinating about sitting around watching a bunch of pituitary cases stuff a ball through a hoop?"), I do retain a soft spot for baseball, which I [somewhat snobbishly] regard as the most poetic of sports. It has much to do with my father's lifelong love of the game, and so I wanted to refer you all to his response to the report on his blog:

Your Cheatin' (Baseball) Heart...

À bientôt.


They can eat in Chinatown and drink their sweet-ass wine...

In purely melodic terms, I think my favorite Christmas song is "Christmastime for the Jews", which was sung by Darlene Love and aired on Saturday Night Live a year or two ago. It's just so catchy, and I'm finally in the Christmas spirit after hearing it. It almost completely cancels out Bob Seger's version of "Little Drummer Boy".

Wii have a winner

The #1 myth that you'll be hearing this year in regards to Christmas Shopping is that Nintendo has purposefully not created enough Wiis in order to drive up demand of their groundbreaking console.

The next time you hear someone say this, I want you to do your best and most annoying buzzer imitation that you can muster, followed by a curt exclamation of WRONG!(how do you spell out the annoying buzzer sound? EEHHHH? AAAANNNNNNN? I have no idea.)

I've been telling people this for weeks, and I've finally found proof of it (sort of), that Nintendo is going to lose a lot of money this winter because it couldn't make enough of these $250 wonder machines.

To be more specific, according to this report Nintendo is leaving around 1.3 Billion dollars on the table.

If you don't know a lot about the Wii, the consoles are cheaper than the PS3 and the XBOX 360, and the gaming experience is completely different. My younger brother Jordan bought one a year ago and it has been stationed at our house for the past 6 months or so.

I have to admit, they are a whole lot of fun. Particularly for my kids, who are ages 6 and 4. They got the hang of the controller fairly quickly and they can play everything from bowling to football to golf to tennis with relative ease. Parker (the 4-year old) can even play Madden 08 thanks to the "Family Play" option that EA has put onto their sports games specifically for the Wii. (in fact, if you havent seen the hilarious EA Sports Family Play commercial, check it out.)

The Wii isn't perfect of course. I don't think the graphics are quite on par with the PS3. I'm sure there's other limitations that I'm not aware about as well. But in terms of a fun video gaming experience for the whole family, you can't beat it. When Jordan moved out last month and told us we could keep the Wii as a gift for letting him live with us off and on for the past 2 years, we were extremely grateful. Parker will be getting NBA Live 08 and EA Playground this year for christmas presents, and I'm sure I'll have fun playing them as well.

So if you're wondering if the Wii is worth all the fuss, I think it is. It's just a shame that you probably won't be able to find one in stores until some time next year. You're all welcome to come over to our place to play though, as long as you don't mind me getting in your face and screaming "THIS IS MY HOUSE!" after a huge stop on 3rd down.

UPDATE #1: I completely support the "Advent Conspiracy" idea of Christmas, and do not suggest that you spend exorbitant amounts of money on frivolities this Christmas.

UPDATE#2: Apparently Nintendo is going to unveil a rain-check program that could guarantee you a Wii by the end of January.

The nectar of the angels

Recently, I've grown dissatisfied with the typical selection of beverages. Even at the store where I work, which has a pretty broad offering, there are very few I really love. Sodas don't feel like they hydrate me well enough, and many of the non-major brands are too sweet. Iced teas have caffeine. Water is boring. Kombucha tastes like crap.

Recently, though, I found something that hits just right.


It's not perfect, but it's close.

Viso is based in Portland, and as of now is only available in the Northwest, Northern California and Manhattan. I suggest wandering around their website for more information, but there's few things you need to know: Viso tastes awesome, it's not too sweet, it's incredibly refreshing, and it could substitute for your multi-vitamin pill. 100% of all your daily vitamin needs, plus a variety of minerals.

Anyway, I've been drinking them daily for quite a while, and I just wanted to tell everyone about it. The bottle looks a little strange, which is why I didn't try it until I had a sample, but I don't want you to make the same mistake.

Also, for you energy drink junkies, Viso flavors Vigor and Will (the diet version) are the equivalent of four cups of coffee. I had Vigor one time, and it was a little too much for me.


Build-A-Movie Game

Today, I toss a challenge out to you, our faithful readers. I will give you three actors and a genre, you build me a movie. Give the me the title and a plotline of the film in the comments.

And, yes, I'm stealing this idea outright from the host of The Best Show on WFMU.

Why? Because it is wicked fun. If this goes over well, I'll put up a new one every week or so.

Your actors:

Albert Finney

Carol Burnett

Jimmy Cliff

Genre: Political Thriller



The Most Unlikable Character in Comic Strip History

My friend Steve and I are pretty alike in our tastes. From music to movies to sports, we enjoy the same things. There are differences, of course...Steve's taste in indie music tends to be more atmospheric, and I like actual melodies.

We also share dislikes ('hatreds' is so strong). Most of our angry emails tend to revolve around two newspaper-related themes: contrarian Portland Tribune sportswriter Dwight Jaynes and the comic strip Luann.

Luann was created by Greg Evans, and chronicles the trials and tribulations of Luann DeGroot, a narcissistic high school girl. The storylines are intended to bring up "real issues today's teens face". These issues are broached by having Luann whine about her love life, or whine about school work, or even whine about her older brother, unlovable layabout Brad.

In early incarnations, Luann was kind of ugly, and had a crush on the unlovably handsome Aaron Hill.

Later, Aaron Hill, defying all reason, started to like Luann back despite the fact she had no apparent positive attributes.

Then Luann became moderately attractive, which no one saw coming, but it did offer at least some semblance of reason that another guy, the unlikably nerdy Gunther, would fall in love with her.

And Luann waffled between the both of them because a) she's stupid and b) Gunther and Aaron Hill are stupid.

Luann also has two obnoxious 'friends': Bernice and Delta. I'm sure you can figure out which one is which...I guess Evans dismissed the name "Shaneequa" for the token black friend as too cliche.

The word 'friends' is in quotes, because Luann is always backstabbing her friends and visa versa. For instance, Bernice is similarly nerdy to Gunther, so she always has a crush on him even though Gunther is in love with Luann. Delta is ground-breakingly sassy and wise.

There's only one likable character in the Luann world, and that is Tiffany.

Tiffany is likable for two reasons. First, Luann hates her. There's an overly simplistic saying: "The enemy of my enemy is my friend". While that quote doesn't work at all in the context of Middle East diplomacy, it works here. Thusly, since Tiffany is so despised by Luann, we must love her in equal measure.

Second, Tiffany is hot. There's no getting around it.

As much as I hate "Luann", I read it every chance I get, if only to see how far various storylines have not progressed ("Lost" is a too-the-point short story in comparison), and to send Steve an angry email. Here's an example:

Look! Luann's mascara makes her look like an old prostitute.

Sincerely, Jordan
I hope I live to be 1,000 years old, because maybe by that point there will be a storyline where Luann is whining into her audiotape diary. In a cage in Hell.

P.S. As always, The Onion discussed this subject before I did. Below is the article's photo inlay, which features The Onion's take on Greg Evans' initial sketches about how to broach the topic of 9/11. Click on it to make it bigger. Awesome.

Did you know...

...that Facebook is better than MySpace, and figuratively kicks MySpace in its MyFace?

...that I didn't know Facebook was better until just now?

...that as of today, Burnside has a Facebook group, and you can join? And you should join and make comments!

Maybe this jerk will talk to me now that I'm in the Cool Kids Club. I'm still unclear on what "Poking" means on the site. If you could clue me in, that would be great. That term usually has inappropriate connotations.



Our prayers go out to our brothers and sisters in Colorado after two horrifying shootings this weekend. The Omaha Mall shooting and now this? What is going on?


A job well done.........

Kudos to the Burnside Writer's Blog prayer team, whose fervent prayers resulted in a 44% rotten rating for The Golden Compass on Rotten Tomatoes!! For those who don't know, The Golden Compass is a movie about killing God. It stars Nicole Kidman and the polar bears from the holiday Coca-Cola ads.

The Master's Touch

i pulled up behind this guy at a light this afternoon and...wow. it was hard to keep my hand still to take the picture with all the giggling and stuff.

(click the picture to make it bigger)

In case you can't read it, it says:

"Master's Touch Pest Control - Let us find a peaceful solution for what's bugging you"

this begs alot of questions...go ahead, fire away.


I like cold weather, or at least I say I do. Course I usually say this in August when the temperature and humidity are in the mid-nineties, but still, nothing feels better than taking a deep breath of cold air on a crisp winter morning. That being said, I'm playing in a golf tournament this Sunday, and according to our friends at the Weather Channel, I can expect a high temperature of 80 degrees! On December 9th! Not that I'm complaining, it should make for a great day of golf. But if it's 80 degrees in December, what is next August going to be like?

The Ballplayer (continued from page 191)

You tell Sandy Chaser that you can study, but it has to be in the library.

“But I like to study naked, if you know what I mean,” Sandy says.

You have no idea what she means, and walk away.

Your career at Auburn is successful, with two Heisman Trophies, a trip to the Final Four, and a College World Series MVP. You graduate with honors, and then face your toughest decision.

To play two professional sports, turn to page 123. Two focus your attention on just one sport, turn to page 14. To turn down NFL, NBA, and MLB fame to attend medical school, turn to page 99.


The Art of Canadian Culinary Delights

Last week, we posted an entry about this insane Canadian public service announcement regarding accidents.

In that article, I made a joke:
"Before you feel too bad for her, though, she's training to become a chef in Canada...which is sort of like training to become Saudi Arabia's best ice hockey player."
Jon Adams, our esteemed Burnside Sports Editor, who is Canadian, responded thusly:
"Okay, wait. I don't get it. As a Canadian, I feel like you, my American friends, are leaving me out of the loop. Why is training to become a chef in Canada like being Saudi Arabia's best hockey player? That's like saying no one eats in Canada. Help me out here. And that ad is hardcore. I didn't see it on tv, but that's insane."
Jon is right: my joke was poorly worded.

My point was...and this may come as a shock to our neighbors to the North...Canadian food is uncommonly awful.

This isn't meant to be another obnoxious Canadian joke. I'm sick of Canadian jokes. "Hey! Those hosers up in Canada like hockey, eh? HA HA HA!!!"

When I was traveling with Don Miller, we visited three Canadian cities: Vancouver, Edmonton and Toronto. During those three trips, we had three good meals. It became an ongoing theme: even to the point where we ate at a Hard Rock Cafe (!) in downtown Toronto, where we were disappointed, even by Hard Rock Cafe standards.

Canadian food more or less resembles American food, steeped by similar European influences. One perfect example is the doughnut. In Canada, Tim Horton's reigns supreme. Compared to American chains Krispy Kreme and Dunkin' Donuts, however, Horton's baked goods are unbearably thick and pasty. Here's an image comparison:

I have a few theories as to why Canadian food is so obviously inferior:

1) British influence lasted much longer in Canada. And traditional British food is routinely awful. Take, for example, the difference in spices between a banger and bratwurst/kielbasa/andoullie/chorizo.

2) Canada didn't experience immigration in such large numbers. While there is certainly an Italian-Canadian population, I doubt it rivals the numbers in cities like New York and Chicago.

3) Canadians, on average, tend to be more reserved in their social interactions. This may swing over into taste buds. Similarly, Canadians are much less decadent than their American neighbors.

4) Warmer weather yields more culinary experimentation. Most of the well-known fares of the world...Italian, Indian, Mexican, American Southern, to name a few...come from hotter regions. Germany would be a notable exception, and France is too moderate to claim either extreme.

In Canada's defense, I haven't spent any time in Quebec or other French-influenced Canadian cities. I'd guess food in Montreal is pretty good, but it likely doesn't compare to food in Paris.

As I mentioned before, we had three good meals over our span of time north of the border. I forget the name, but there was a nice little restaurant in the Queen St West neighborhood in Toronto.

The other two meals were at two of Canada's most popular chains: Earl's and Joey's. The two restaurants are owned by the same restaurant group, and offer high-end bar fare in a sleek setting. (For Portlanders, think "Henry's" or "Manzana Grill.) The restaurants are usually located in suburban areas, much like Red Robin or Red Lobster here in the States, but with better food.

By Canadian standards, Joey's and Earl's are outstanding. By American standards, they're just decent. The one dish that really stood out was Joey's sushi tacos.

(Incidentally, Earl's is basically a classy version of Hooter's. Almost all the hostesses and servers are gorgeous, raven-haired women wearing black. It's ridiculous. That fact may have influenced my tasting, but I can't be sure.)

And now, Jon, you know the rest of the story.

It could be worse, Canadians. I mean, would you saturate yourselves in edible delights if it meant your country would be mired in an unwinnable war? Would you be willing to pay exorbitant health insurance fees instead of exorbitant taxes? Would you give up the vast fields of oil sand in Alberta?

If so, maybe we could work out some sort of deal...


Don Miller Reads at Olio United

Editor's note: It is now December 6th! The reading is tonight! Go to the reading!

My friends Korinne and Aaron James, along with some other folks, recently opened a clothing boutique in SE Portland called Olio United. It's a beautiful space, and has some great clothing. Part of the allure of Olio United is the story behind each article and item and the responsible and fair production going into each of the products.

So it's fitting that Don Miller will be reading at Olio United tomorrow night at 7pm.

Korinne is doing our wedding invitations, so Mindy and I stopped by today. I was stunned to hear the new working title for Don's upcoming book, especially considering I live with the guy and he hadn't mentioned it yet. For what it's worth, I think "A Million Miles in a Thousand Years" is more catching than "Let Story Guide You".

If you're available tomorrow night, I suggest you stop in for a listen and a sneak peek at what Don has been working on for the better part of a year. You won't be disappointed. Here's a larger and more readable version of the image above. And hey, if you're out anyway, why not jaunt up to Local 35 on 35th and Hawthorne for a showing of my friend Erik Railton's art?