"Love," The Beatles
This isn't a canonical album, but it should be. It was produced by George and Giles Martin as the soundtrack for a Cirque Du Soleil production of the same name. The best way to describe the project is, if you listened to the entire Beatles catalogue and then had a really trippy fever dream, this would be the soundtrack. The album mixes and mashes and blends so many tracks into a seamless, psychadelic tapestry. Like "Abbey Road," almost every song blends into the next one. Elements of diverse songs are layered on top of each other, so that one can recognize three or four songs being referenced at the same time. For the Beatles fan, this could either be a blasphemy or a stroke of brilliance. I vote for the latter.
"Our Sacred Honor," edited by William Bennett
Bennett, most famously known for his "Book of Virtues" and his unfortunate gambling problem, here compiles the letters, speeches, and personal writings of the Founders, and organizes them based on a handful of important themes: patriotism, love and courtship, friendship and civility, education of head and heart, industry and frugality, justice, and piety. In reading this book, I'm struck by how prescient these historical figures were regarding the importance of these virtues in a just and thriving society, and how the lack of them would destroy the country they pledged their lives, lands, and sacred honor to create. As I read the words of Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Adams (both John and Abigail), Franklin, and others, I'm inspired and emboldened to strive for the ideal, not only for what America could be, but what we as individual people could be. They believed that we don't have to settle for a society that caters to the basest parts of human nature. They constantly looked to God for the strength and direction to make this country a place of good men living good lives.
It's the greatest show on TV. This may be a shock to some of you to hear me say this. But I officially am renouncing my insistence of "Smallville" as my favorite TV program. Smallville has really let me down this year, while "Heroes" is fantastic, interesting, emotionally engaging, and suspenseful. This is how TV should be made. At times gruesome, the show constantly plays on the themes of destiny and responsibility, and while it works from a somewhat humanistic worldview (with its emphasis on the randomness of evolution), it still promotes the ideas of responsibility to family and humanity, the valor of altruism, and the victory of good over evil. You can't really ask for more than that on primetime.
"Brick" is an unusual film. It's a detective thriller in a high-school setting, and it is styled and follows 1940's film noir conventions (think: "Maltese Falcon"). It stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt (the kid from "3rd Rock" and "Ten Things I Hate About You"), who channels a sort of teenaged Humphrey Bogart. The dialogue uses noir slang like "the brass" (police) and "the pin" (kingpin). The film follows the conventions of the genre, including character archtypes and characteristic lighting and camera work. If you are a fan of film noir, or simply of films that try to cross genres, this one is worth your time. Great film, great plot, good acting (especially since most of the cast is under 30).
"Guitar Hero II" on PS2
For a while, I decided that I was pretty much satisfied with the video games I currently own, since I so rarely get to play them. Then I tried "GH2" at Best Buy, and was hooked. It's pretty much the guitar-rock version of DDR, but instead of all that nasty physical exertion, you have to play perfectly timed notes and chords on a guitar-shaped controller. So yeah, as much as I am trying to "put away childish things," there is once again a somewhat-pricy video game on my Christmas List.
I can't really give an official recipe like Trav would. I'm not that good. Really, I'm only fumbling around the kitchen these days. But it involves a good amount of leftover T-day turkey (light and dark meat), copious chopped yellow/red onions, and several good-sized potatoes. Bake the potatoes in the microwave first, so that they're already cooked. Chop the onions and the potatoes, and toss in the skillet with the turkey and some light olive oil. Season with your favorite spices and seasonings. Fry up in the skillet, plate, and serve. I may be a culinary philistine, but that's darn good eatin', especially in the cold months of winter. YMMV.
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