Liner Notes (December 24th, 2021)

Happy Holidays

Happy Christmas Eve!

With tomorrow being a holiday, I figured I’d try and write up my newsletter a little earlier to make sure something got written up. It was a slower music week, but there are some thoughts on new stuff (Half Past Two, Hot Mulligan) as well as some revisited classics (The Ataris), and a run-through of my quest for decent masks, automating changing macOS icons, and commentary on other entertainment I consumed over the past week.

This week’s supporter Q&A post can be found here.

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A Few Things

  • Every year, since 2016, I’ve written some version of a “gift guide” on the website. This year life got in the way, and I could never really find the time to sit down and write it, and when I did have a few minutes, I couldn’t come up with that many things I wanted to stand behind as a gift. Whenever I write something like this, I only include things that I’ve personally used and can put my name behind as a recommendation, and some years there just isn’t anything new that fits the bill. And I don’t see any reason to repeat stuff since the old versions still exist. I was able to finally grab a few hours last weekend to put something together and while here on Christmas eve, it’s probably not so relevant to those reading this newsletter today … maybe it’ll inspire a birthday gift or a gift for yourself.
  • In a past newsletter, I shared a Spotify take on my Raspberry Pi Now Playing project, and this week I heard from someone that took the idea and made an Apple Music version. Besides working with Apple Music, it looks like it’s using a Node server on the backend. Clever stuff, and I always get a huge smile seeing what other people are creating and building off something I did.
  • I’m one of those weirdos that likes to customize all my Mac icons (well, and iOS icons). I used to use an app called LiteIcon to make this entire process simple, but that was discontinued a few operating systems ago. I’d been doing this manually for a while since I only needed to re-do it after the app would be updated, but I recently came across this command line utility called Fileicon. It’s very easy to install using Homebrew, and then you can easily update icons using the command line. This means you can also write a simple shell script to add the commands to change all the icons you want, automatically. So, after updating apps, I don’t need to go manually change all the icons, I can run the script, and it updates everything, clears the icon cache, and reboots the dock, so everything gets my custom icon applied. Now, if only Apple would let us customize the built-in app icons again, what a concept!
  • And, finally, with COVID cases once again surging, I realized our supply of KN95 masks was getting low. I went to just buy what we had before, only to find out that the supplier had switched which factory they made the masks from, and it was a lower-rated one. So, I had to once again do a bunch of research to find out what the “good” masks were. The fact that there are so many “scam” masks on Amazon/the internet that proclaim to be certified K/N95 and are not is … bad! The fact that I have to do research and try and find out where masks are made at all is … bad! The government should have gone into overdrive making every size, color, and “type” of these masks that are great at protecting and send us buckets of them every single month. They should be readily available. There should be no guessing. No price gouging. No supply issues. Great masks, lots of tests! Free! We should expect this shit from our government as the minimum. Anyway, this is a good Twitter thread about masks, and this website is an excellent resource about testing masks on various properties. The masks I currently like are from WellBefore. I like the KN95, and Hannah prefers the 3D/KF94 style. I like that you can get different sizes here, and, as for color … well, I’ll stop wearing black when they make a darker color.

In Case You Missed It

Music Thoughts

  • It was another slow music week, not really anything new coming out, so I spent a lot of time with some old favorites. I did a pretty extensive dive back through The Ataris catalog. It was one of those weeks where So Long, Astoria really hit me. The combination of nostalgic lyrics and the album’s nostalgia for me worked for me this week. I think Kris Roe has always been one of the more underrated songwriters from our music scene, and he does some great here. That run from Blue Skies through Astoria is just top-notch pop-punk.
  • Blink-182 was once again my most played artist of the week; I’ve found that often when I can’t think of what to listen to, I’ll just toss on an album or band that I know I love. And that usually ends up being something like Enema of the State or Dude Ranch, albums that are just infinitely listenable and can blend pretty quickly into the background while I’m doing other things.
  • As for “new” things I listened to this week, I am into the new acoustic release from Hot Mulligan. They did a great job with these renditions. And then the ska band Half Past Two put out a collection of “Holiday” songs, but the gimmick is every song is a song named “Holiday” by another band (Green Day, Weezer, etc.) – fun little EP and it had me spinning their solid full-length from earlier this year. I still find it oddly hilarious that 2021 was the year I got back into ska, that Joywave! album is going to feature very high on my end-of-the-year list.
  • There was also a nice run of Carly Rae Jepsen, Less Than Jake, Florre, and Keane this week. I apparently had never listened to that last Keane album. Verdict? Sounds like a Keane album.
  • Over the next week, I’ll be finalizing my EOTY list and getting it and all the staff lists ready for publication. The goal is to have that ready to post on January 3rd. I feel pretty good about my top 10, ok about my top 30, and then there are about 50 albums that are going to live in my honorable mention section because I would feel remiss not to share them and have them documented as being a big part of my musical year.

The Stats: Over the past week, I listened to 70 different artists and 457 different tracks (488 scrobbles). My most played album was The Ataris’ So Long, Astoria, and my most played artist ended up being, like so often before, Blink-182. Here is my Top 9 from last week, and you can follow me on Apple Music and/or Last.fm.

Entertainment Thoughts

  • We finished the second half of the second season of PEN15. Such a delightful and well-done show. However, damn, that last episode was like a throat punch. It ended just about as perfect as it could and was a wonderful remembrance of a particular time of life. Not an episode went by where Hannah and I didn’t pause to talk about something the show reminded us of in our lives and childhood.
  • I don’t know what the general opinion of Hawkeye ended up being because I try to ignore popular comic book internet culture as much as I can, but I really enjoyed the show. I’ve written about my love of Matt Fraction’s comic series before, so I loved the little nods here. This was fun, and I thought Hailee Steinfeld was great. I’m going to say I’d slot this behind Wandavision as my favorite Marvel TV show, but I also think I’d be much more willing to re-watch this next holiday season than any of the other shows.
  • For the first time in a very long time … I revisited the Rami Spider-Man films. The nostalgia I have for watching the original Spider-Man movie is hard to put to words; I watched that movie all the time. I think it and Spider-Man 2 hold up shockingly well. I love that they feel, for lack of a better term, like they have smaller stakes. It lets the character development for Peter and MJ really shine. These days so many superhero movies feel like they have to be ENDOFTHEWORLD big, and everything is constantly leading to the next huge set piece, or focus group tested nostalgia bait and/or witty line. This was a nice throwback and I had a lot of fun revisiting these films … of course now I am putting off jumping to Spider-Man 3. I just don’t know if I can do it. Speaking of Spider-Man (no, I haven’t seen the new one yet, I still don’t want to sit in a theatre with that many people), I have started reading some Miles Morales comics again. I’m on the 11th issue of Saldin Ahmed’s run so far, and it’s starting to get going, and I’m enjoying it. Miles really is just the best.
  • Last night, we watched The Family Man, which has become one of my favorite little holiday movies over the years. Nicholas Cage is doing all his Cage stuff, but it just ends up being a heartwarming story with a really nice message that always resonates with me.

Random and Personal Stuff

  • I hope everyone has a great weekend, a happy holiday, and a Merry Christmas if you celebrate. Tonight we’re watching movies with my sister and ordering too much Chinese food. Tomorrow, we’ll be waking up to open up presents and then heading over to my mom’s for a Christmas dinner. This week we had my dad and Hannah’s mom over for various present opening and dinner eating extravaganzas; I’m pretty sure I’ve gained ten pounds already. So far the gift theme of the year seems to have been hooded sweatshirts. (I’ll try and recap what I got and gave next week.)

Ten Songs

Here are ten songs that I listened to and loved this week. Some may be new, some may be old, but they all found their way into my life during the past seven days.

  1. Blink-182 – Boxing Day
  2. The Maine – 12.25
  3. Good Charlotte – Last December
  4. Half Past Two – Holiday
  5. Something Corporate – Forget December
  6. The Ataris – So Long, Astoria
  7. Green Day – Waiting (BBC Session)
  8. Half Past Two – Scratched CD
  9. Billy Joel – You’re My Home
  10. Florrie – Little White Lies

This playlist is available on Spotify and Apple Music.

Community Watch

The trending and popular threads in our community this week include:

The most liked post in our forums last week was this one by mescalineeyes in the “General Politics Discussion IX” thread.

Previous editions of Liner Notes can be found here.

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