2012 in music

According to last.fm, this year doesn’t look all that different from last year in music. I finally jumped on the Spotify bandwagon sometime around February, and that has allowed me to binge on an assortment of New Wave playlists without having to identify, locate, and download whole albums in order to listen to that one track I really liked at Neo (or wherever) (but mostly Neo). I’ve also really liked using Shazam to identify tracks on the radio or at the grocery store or on the dance floor at Exit or in the middle of an Essential Mix.

Speaking of Essential Mixes, while he doesn’t appear anywhere on the below charts, honorable mention must be given to the Nicolas Jaar Essential Mix, which I listened to 29 times, or for a total of 58 hours, or 2.4 days. By comparison, I listened to my top track (New Order – Run) 89 times, or for a total of 6 hours and 40 minutes.

Top Artists of 2012
1. New Order
2. The Cars
3. Lana Del Ray
4. Talking Heads
5. LCD Soundsystem
6. Robyn
7. Pulp
8. The National
9. The Cure
10. Crooked Fingers

Top Albums of 2012
1. The Cars – Complete Greatest Hits
2. Robyn – Body Talk
3. Lana Del Ray – Born to Die – The Paradise Edition
4. Rihanna – Talk That Talk
5. LCD Soundsystem – This Is Happening
6. The Naked and Famous – Passive Me, Aggressive You
7. Gorillaz – Plastic Beach
8. The Cure – Greatest Hits
9. New Order – Power, Corruption & Lies
10. LCD Soundsystem – Sound of Silver

Top Tracks of 2012
1. New Order – Run
2. The Cars – Magic
3. Erasure – Love To Hate You
4. Lana Del Ray – National Anthem
5. Pulp – Like a Friend
6. Roxy Music – Over You
7. Lana Del Ray – Blue Jeans (Penguin Prison Remix)
8. Pulp – Disco 2000
8. LCD Soundsystem – I Can Change
10. Robyn – None of Dem

See also: 2011 in music (honestly)


2011 in Music (honestly)

I loved this post from The Awl, which so accurately describes my approach to music.

Now that we’ve finally cleared out all of those “best of” and “year end” music lists of 2011—and good riddance!—here’s something different: most played songs. The songs that show up on your most played list aren’t necessarily the songs that defined the year for you. They can be timeless—the comfort songs you return to over and over again. Or they can reflect periods of brief, intense obsession, such as, in my case, with “My Heart is a Drummer” by Allo Darlin’, which I first listened to on a recommendation from a friend, and proceeded to play 50 times in a span of three days.

I’m an inveterate music binger. I get absolutely, completely hooked on a song or an album and then have to force myself to move on by enforcing arbitrary rules concerning the contents of my iPod – i.e. can’t add any other music until I’ve listened to everything on it, can only have 5 Essential Mixes on deck at any one time, etc. This tunnel vision also means that I’m slow to discover new music, especially since nearly every time I decide I need new music, I end up downloading music that is new to me but generally dates to the decade of my birth. Oops.

So, with no apologies, I present my top 5 artists and albums from 2011 based on last.fm play counts:


  1. Talking Heads
  2. LCD Soundsystem
  3. New Order
  4. Front 242
  5. Magnetic Fields


  1. LCD Soundsystem – This Is Happening. It’s actually not worth listing my top tracks as they’re all from this album.
  2. New Order – Power, Corruption And Lies
  3. Talking Heads – Speaking in Tongues
  4. Magnetic Fields – 69 Love Songs
  5. Talking Heads – Little Creatures

Note: I have removed The Diane Rehm Show from both of these lists as while it contains interstitial music, it doesn’t meet the ‘music’ definition used for this post. It is, however, my 4th most played ‘artist’ and 2nd most played ‘album’.

Product Placement

A list of stuff I’m into these days:

  1. Dark chocolate.  Lots of dark chocolate.
  2. Staying out far too late, drinking and dancing like it’s the summer of 2005.
  3. Shiny red nails and backless gold dresses and fake eyelashes.
  4. I don’t know how The Dark Tower will possibly work on TV, and I’m not sure if I want to find out, but I’m reasonably confident I also won’t be able to stay away.
  5. Pumpkin beers.  Some are good.  Some are super terrible.  I will try any of them.
  6. My new planner, though I have to wait almost two months to use it.
  7. Person of Interest.  I’m not sure if it’s right to describe Jim Caviezel as sexy, but damn.
  8. This scrub smells amazing and is making my skin softer than is reasonable to expect this time of year.
  9. Downloading an obscene amount of questionably terrible music from my youth in anticipation of a dance party this coming weekend.  You should come!
  10. Power, Corruption & Lies. And this track from Substance that I’ve somehow glossed on for years.  And downloading a bunch of industrial music that I’d forgotten about.  And this Four Tet album.  And music music music music music music.

Nike Free Run+

Totally got these with my Christmas money and have put in two 2 mile treadmill runs.  A few things I’ve noticed already:

  1. My calves and shins are sore in ways they haven’t been since I started running.  This means something, right?
  2. I’m also feeling something in my knees – I’m not sore, but am definitely experiencing different kind of percussion.  I don’t know if that means I’m nailing a midfoot strike or that I’m just getting used to the shoes.
  3. My feet are clearly different sizes, and this is much more noticeable when my shoes are more articulated.  It’s not bad enough to necessitate buying two different pairs of shoes, and I’m sure I’ll barely notice once I’m back outside
  4. Hooray! I have new shoes! For the first time in almost three years!

Also exciting: Shane got me a Garmin GPS watch thingy!  I don’t have any exciting data to show you since I’ve only run inside since Christmas, but I’m pretty hyped about it.


So the LJ is all abuzz about Tumblr, which apparently makes posting all kinds of random web things incredibly easy. Having already fallen in love with delicious, embraced and abandoned Vox, and then jumped straight into Twitter, I think I already have enough places to post things, though the idea of a posting bookmarklet is pretty cool. Instead, my faithful readers, I’m going to be more steadfastly resolved to sharing ephemera here, rather than fattening your feed readers with another site to manage.

Speaking of which, how in the world did I ever manage my internetting before feed readers? The Google Reader feature set is my current best friend, especially the sharing options. Say what you will about Google – I’m happy to integrate my reading, my email, my document composition, and my calendar, and then also have the option to highlight text and send it to my phone.

Decision ’07: Lunchboxes

Over the last year, I have flirted with two separate lunchboxes, evaluating both on a series of criteria specific to my diet, transportation, aesthetic, and otherwise picky needs. The following is my evaluation, prepared here for your reading pleasure and general dining edification:

My First Bento

Contestant #1: Mr. Bento
Cost: $39.99 from Amazon, prices may vary in retail stores
Description: More of a traditional Bento box, Mr Bento contains four inner containers in an outer bullet-like case.
Interior containers: Four plastic containers in total, two with snap-on lids (like Tupperware), one with a screw-on air seal lid, and one with a screw-on thermal lid. Four slightly different sizes of containers.
Exterior/carry case: Metal/metallic thermos-like container with plastic lid that snaps on with side hinges. Canvas-like carry-case with handle and/or shoulder strap.
Amenities: Comes with either chopsticks (in their own hinged hard plastic case) or spork (with cover).
Sample meals: Mr Bento Porn Flickr Group (totally SFW)

Laptop Lunch #1

Contestant #2: Laptop Lunchbox
Cost: $20.99 for the most basic model from Laptop Lunches, fancier models come with more but also cost extra
Description: Brightly-colored plastic hinged lunchbox with modular internal containers.
Interior containers: Five hard plastic containers in a variety of sizes. Two containers (3x5x2 and 2×1.5×2) have lids, the rest are open.
Exterior/carry case: Hard plastic hinged container. No handle or carry case.
Amenities: Comes with silverware and a cookbook with suggestions on packing healthy meals.
Sample meals: Laptop Lunches Flickr Group

Springtime bento

Things I like about Mr. Bento:

  • The thermal lidded container does a good job of keeping cold things cold. It doesn’t keep frozen things frozen, but that’s asking a bit much.
  • The air-seal lidded container does a very good job of keeping liquidy things from leaking. I never once had a spill from my lunchbox when carrying Mr. Bento.
  • The carry-case is very nice and has extra room for things like napkins or teabags or packets of things that didn’t fit in the container itself.
  • Lots of little containers meant that I put a lot of thought into packing my lunch.

Things I dislike about Mr. Bento:

  • Honestly, it’s pretty bulky. If you don’t carry much back and forth to work, or if you drive, this probably isn’t an issue, but it was frustrating when I was commuting on my bike with my laptop and an assortment of other things. Mr. Bento just didn’t fit in my bag very well. If your workplace has limited fridge space, this could be an issue as well.
  • On the one hand, packing my lunch into lots of little containers was fun and made me think about what I was eating. On the other hand, because it doesn’t make sense to pack the Bento WITHOUT all the internal ones, I felt like I was packing more food than I really needed.
  • Things larger than a bagel (or something with bagel-like dimensions) – a slice of leftover pizza, a bag of chips, an apple – don’t fit, and there’s no good way of making them fit short of cutting them up and/or otherwise changing their original dimensions.

Day 106 - 11/5/07

Things I like about the Laptop Lunchbox:

  • The bright colors appeal to my inner 7 year old.
  • The containers are, on the whole, smaller than Mr. Bento’s, so it’s better for portion control.
  • You can remove all of the internal containers and still use the lunchbox – so, for example, if you wanted to take a slice of pizza, you could take out two containers, put in the slice of pizza, and still use the remaining containers. Alternately, you could take out all the containers and fill the box up with a big salad or something.
  • The entire package is more compact, so it fits well in my small messenger bag along with my wallet, book, iPod, and other commuting essentials. It also fits nicely in the compact office fridge.
  • It’s easy to buy extra accessories like a thermal sleeve, a carry case, a matching thermos, replacement containers, etc.

Things I dislike about the Laptop Lunchbox:

  • The lack of lids can be a problem. The provided lids are very good, but what if you want to bring yogurt AND granola and don’t want the granola getting everywhere? I’ve been using Press’n Seal (what kind of a silly name is that?) wrap, and up until today have had no problems, even with soup! Today, however, I had leaky beans, but the damage was minimal. Even with Press’n Seal, you’re potentially pushing your luck, so I’ve been double extra cautious (again, up until today) and have put the lunchbox in a plastic bag in my bag for transportation purposes.
  • No thermal powers whatsoever. This hasn’t been an issue as I haven’t had to take it anywhere without access to a fridge, and this problem could be remedied with the purchase of the thermal sleeve or insulated carry case, available for about $15 each.

Overall, for my purposes the Laptop Lunchbox is the winner. It is compact, the portions are smaller, and I feel like a little kid every time I pack my purple (!) lunchbox with rainbow colored containers. I imagine there will be instances when I still use Mr. Bento, but for the most part, my needs are met by the Laptop Lunchbox. For the price of Mr. Bento ($39.99), you could buy the entire Laptop Lunchbox system (lunchbox, containers, silverware, cookbook, insulated carry case, and water bottle) ($34.99) – or you could save $15 and get the basic model.

I invite discussion on this important topic.

Pandas and snacks

You know who loves pandas? Shane Bee. Shane Bee LOVES pandas. So I’m sure he will be delighted to hear that a panda at the San Diego zoo is pregnant. Go panda!

On an unrelated note, I had my first Belly Bar today. Don’t worry, I’m not pregnant (despite my office’s best attempts to jinx me) – I’m just a completest when it comes to bar investigations. I had the Baby Needs Chocolate bar, which was, like many other bars we’ve talked about before, full of crispy weirdness and a thin layer of chocolate. It had a secretive cherry flavor, which I rather liked, but maybe that was just my not-pregnant body telling me that I was missing out on something because I’m not gestating. Whatever, body.

The stats: 170 calories/6 g fat/22 g carbs/12 g sugar/8 g protein

More bars in more places

NuGo Coffee Break

looked like a granola bar, tasted like weirdness – raisins, dates, mysterious orangeness – strange consistency. Hmm.

Pure Protein Blueberry Crumb Cake

“cake” with blueberry topping and mysterious waxy white coating – maybe vanilla flavored? Quite possibly the holy grail of bars with 18g of protein for 200 calories, but much like in that Indy movie where the greedy adventurer grabs the ornate gold cup and then turns into ash, this is a false grail.

The stats: 200 calories/6 g fat/19 g carbs/2 g sugar/9 g sugar alcohol/18 g protein

Kashi GoLean Chocolate Almond Toffee High Protein & Fiber bar

Weird texture, no apparent almond OR toffee. I am tired of eating bars that I don’t like. The things I do for you people! 6 g fiber is not high fiber, dudes. Hate to break it to you. I mean, it’s more than some, but not “high” by any means. Please, please don’t tell me that I have additional Kashi bars to eat. I just can’t do it.

The stats: 290 calories/6 g fat/45 g carbs (!!!!!)/31 g sugar/13 g protein