25 Ways to Spend a Snow Day

14 Nov

It’s a snow day here in town, so a good time to resurrect this post.

Maximum Know-How

Are your children home unexpectedly due to overwhelming snowfall, sheets of freezing rain, or a school district paranoid that some parent will sue them for $40 million dollars if their kid suffers “emotional distress” during a snowball fight on the way to school? Maximum Know-How has you covered.


Here’s how to spend a snow day:

  1. Build a snow fort.
  2. Make snow angels.
  3. Create an army of deranged mutant killer monster snow goons.
  4. Achieve peace in the Middle East.
  5. Make a list of your 25 favorite songs.
  6. Walk to the local drug store and get a flu shot.
  7. Do a deep clean of all the bathrooms in your house.
  8. Anguish over the fact that you personally can’t stop global warming.
  9. Shovel your neighbor’s sidewalk and driveway.
  10. Make a list of your 25 favorite movies.
  11. Savor the multicultural joy of R.E.M.’s “Shiny Happy People” music video. Gotta love Kate.

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Song of the Week: “I Wish It Would Rain” – Nanci Griffith

24 Oct

Western Washingtonians would probably object to this sentiment, but over here in the mountains we’ve just had drizzle and I’d love a real gulleywoosher. I first discovered Nanci when I was videotaping Austin City Limits for my dad. Someone he liked was the featured artist, and Nanci was the opening act. Her “Love at the Five and Dime” is what caught my attention, and I eventually picked up her The MCA Years—A Retrospective greatest hits album, and then later the wonderful Other Voices, Other Rooms cover album. I highly recommend both, even if you’re not big on country music.

Song of the Week: “Destroy Everything You Touch” – Ladytron

18 Oct

Been one of those weeks. So here’s one of my favorite songs of all time to get us through what remains.

Song of the Week: “Carolina in My Mind” – James Taylor

10 Oct

I thought it was interesting that the ten-year memorial for 9/11 featured two artists whose heydays occurred around 40 years earlier. Clearly, James Taylor and Paul Simon got picked over Lady Gaga and Lil Wayne et al. because their music better represented the tone of the event, and certainly meant more in the lives of those lost. I think the pop charts don’t have the patience anymore for that kind of songwriter because we as listeners don’t have the patience to sit through it. Anyway, this week’s tune is my favorite from James Taylor.

Song of the Week: “The Mummer’s Dance” – Loreena McKennitt

30 Sep

Gray fall day today, so we’re going for atmospherics, tune-wise. Loreena McKennitt is a Canadian composer and singer of world music (particularly Celtic and Middle Eastern), with a haunting voice. This track is from her 1997 album, The Book of Secrets. If you like this sort of thing I also recommend her musical interpretation of Alfred Noyes’ narrative poem, “The Highwayman,” (on the same album) as well as “The Mystic’s Dream” from 1994’s The Mask and the Mirror. There are two versions of this week’s song, the radio version, which accompanied the music video (and is shorter and more percussive), and the album version, which I prefer. Below is a fan video of the latter.

Song of the Week: “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” – Propellerheads

26 Sep

This driving, big-beat cover of the theme to Lazenby’s single 007 film first appeared on the Shaken & Stirred compilation by David Arnold, who scored five Bond films. It’s also included on the Propellerheads’ debut album, Decksanddrumsandrockandroll.

Song of the Week: “Vanishing Point” – New Order

19 Sep

One of my favorite bands of all time signed a deal with Mute Records a couple of weeks ago. And frontman Bernard Sumner recently published a memoir. And the band’s ex-bassist Peter Hook is doing his own thing with The Light while everyone’s lawyers wrangle. And the band just received an “Inspiration of the Year” (?!) award from GQ Magazine. And somebody published the lyrics and notebooks of Joy Division’s Ian Curtis in a snooty-looking tome called So This Is Permanence (another step along the path in the man’s cultural sanctification/musical messiahship). But, because I haven’t liked a NO song since 2001’s “Crystal,” and can’t stand all the infighting and end-of-career glorification, and never cared for Joy Division, I choose to dwell instead on the delight I have long experienced from my favorite album: Technique.


Song of the Week: “Catch Your Fall” – Clokx

10 Sep

I haven’t posted any glossy dance-pop for a couple of months, so here’s a shiny summer hit from 2011. Clokx is one of several projects from Dutch DJ Ron van den Beuken.

Song of the Week: “Cucurucu” – Nick Mulvey

2 Sep

Nick Mulvey’s debut solo LP, First Mind, isn’t due for another couple of weeks here in the States, but this song and video have been floating around the web for a few months now, and they are both quite refreshing. Looking forward to hearing the rest of the album.

Song of the Week: “Promises” – The Cranberries

27 Aug

The Cranberries’ 1993 debut album with “Linger,” “Dreams,” “Sunday,” and all the rest was great, despite the album name, and their follow-up record was certainly listenable (though I thought “Zombie” was a bit much). Anyway, five years later they released Bury the Hatchet with “Promises” as the lead (only?) single. The video is supposed to be campy, I think, but is just lame so I’ve gone with this tight live performance instead. Plus, Dolores has Siouxsie eyes in this one.