1.02.2012

A Quantification of the Day Before, the Day After, and New Year's Eve

Number of Theme Parks visited: 3
Total theme park hours clocked: 31.5
Total different number of rides ridden: 21
Total number of actual rides: 33

Oldest ride ridden: technically, Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage, which debuted on July 18, 1955 as the 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea ride.

Most ridden ride: Apocalypse, Six Flags (6 rides)
Most rides in one day: Apocalypse, Six Flags (5 rides on one day)
Longest wait in line: X2 (90 minutes on day 1), Six Flags
Longest ride: It's a Small World Holiday, Disneyland

Best ride scenery & design: Tower of Terror, Disney's California Adventure
Best surprisingly good ride: StarTours, Disneyland
Most interesting attraction: Innoventions, Disneyland
Best ride new to us: Apocalypse
Best overall roller coaster: X2

Biggest shock: Superman, Six Flags--we didn't realize it was running backwards until we got on and it started moving!

Worst rollercoaster: Riddler's Revenge, Six Flags
Biggest disappointment: Green Lantern, Six Flags
Most NC-17: Goliath, Six Flags; it moves so fast the wind almost took my t-shirt off
Scariest/not on purpose: Colossus (1978), which feels like it's falling apart
Most childish ride: Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

Best food: French Market, Disneyland
Worst food: Katy's Kettle, Six Flags
Best treat: Funnel cake, Six Flags

Number of people recognized: 1 (I saw someone from my gym in Tucson)
Number of celebrity sightings 1 (tentative--maybe Bill Paxton)

12.31.2011

2011 Favorite Albums / 1. Florence + The Machine, Ceremonials



Florence + The Machine Ceremonials

Music Math: Kate Bush + Peter Gabriel + Annie Lennox + David Bowie

Best Tracks: "Only If for a Night," "Shake It Out," "What the Water Gave Me," "Breaking Down," "No Light, No Light," "All This and Heaven Too"

Representative Lyrics: "Regrets collect like old friends / here to relieve your darkest moments / I can see no way, I can see no way / And all of the ghouls come out to play"

Notes: Florence + The Machine have done something really significant with this album: they have distilled down the last 30 years of British pop music into a single cohesive disc. The songs have the operatic intensity of Kate Bush, the R&B/soul influence of Annie Lennox, the outerspaceness of David Bowie, and the accessible experimentation of Peter Gabriel, among many other audible influences. The lyrics, of course, are a bit on the maudlin/obtuse end ("What the Water Gave Me" is ostensibly from the perspective of Virginia Woolf just prior to her suicide), but the music is pure anthem. From the opening track's cascade of tinkling piano and harp, the songs build and build, layering instruments, vocals, and harmonies until they erupt into joyous, defiant, or mournful choruses.

Beau’s Critique: "This album makes me want to commit suicide."

12.30.2011

2011 Favorite Albums / 2. Foster the People, Torches



Foster the People, Torches

Music Math: David Bowie + A-ha

Best Tracks: "Helena Beat," "Pumped Up Kicks," "Call It What You Want," "Houdini"

Representative Lyrics: "All the other kids with the pumped up kicks / you better run, better run / outrun my gun / All the other kids with the pumped up kicks / you better run, better run / faster than my bullet"

Notes: You've probably only heard the one song radio played constantly, but the rest of this album is worth a listen. The songs have diverse sounds and arrangements, pulling in just about every instrument and the kitchen sink, mixing up rock beats with dance beats with R&B beats. Each song is an infectious pop miracle, so be prepared to hum them obsessively if you dare to listen. Bonus points to including a really long sample from The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess at the start of "Warrant."

Beau’s Critique:

12.28.2011

2011 Favorite Albums / 3. Oh Land, Oh Land

Oh Land, Oh Land

Music Math: (Björk - dadaism) + (Olivia Newton John - 1970s)

Best Tracks: "Perfection," "Break the Chain," "Sun of a Gun," "Lean," "Wolf & I," "White Nights"

Representative Lyrics: "He said, 'Sorry but you'll never gonna dance again' / But my feet just keep me moving / trying to break the chain"

Notes: The year's best art-pop album, Oh Land's debut owes a clear debt to the trail blazed by her Scandinavian foremother Björk but doesn't stray far from the sunny harmonies and major chords of traditional pop music. What buoys it all is her elfin voice, both reed-thin and velvety at the same time.

Beau’s Critique:

12.27.2011

2011 Favorite Albums / 4. Adele, 21



Adele, 21

Music Math: ((Amy Winehouse + Duffy) - drama - disappointment) + heartache

Best Tracks: "Rolling in the Deep," "Rumour Has It," "Turning Tables," "Someone Like You"

Representative Lyrics: "Bless your soul you got your head in the clouds / she made a fool out of you and she's bringing you down"

Notes: It's easy to see why this album tops most of the end of the year lists--it's bold, fearless, honest, and most of all perfectly written and sung. The songs on 21 capture what Marianne Moore said about art: that it is most universal when it is most subjective. By pouring her own experience into this album, Adele creating something everyone can identify with--and her voice, so beautiful, carries the rest.

Beau’s Critique:

12.26.2011

2011 Favorite Albums / 5. Panic! At the Disco, Vices & Virtues



Panic! At the Disco, Vices & Virtues

Music Math: (Panic at the Disco - pretension) + !

Best Tracks: "Hurricane," "Memories," "Trade Mistakes," "Ready to Go," "Always," "The Calendar"

Representative Lyrics: "It was always you falling for me / now there's always time calling for me / I'm a light blinking at the end of the road / blink back to let me know"

Notes: After losing half its members (including the primary songwriter & lyricist) a few years ago, I wasn't sure Panic would be able to recover. But they not only put out a good album, they put out an album better than their others. This collection captures the electro-rock spirit of the first half of A Fever You Can't Sweat Out while incorporating more straightforward pop into their arrangements. We saw them live this year and, though Brandon Urie was sick and almost lost his voice during the performance, they were still amazeballs.

Beau’s Critique: