Tag Archives: roundup

Favorite Christmas albums

I decided this year that I wanted more Christmas music in my life. I’ve been asking some friends what their favorite music of the season is and Daniel had a good roundup, so I decided that I should list some of my favorites too.

Sufjan Stevens

Songs for Christmas
Songs for Christmas

Songs for Christmas

Probably my favorite this year, this is actually a 5-disc compendium from Sufjan’s past musical Christmas gifts to friends and family. As such, it’s a mish-mash of originals and standards in varying stages of production and arrangement. What I love about it is how Sufjan manages to capture the feelings of Christmas—softness, wonder, wistful sadness, intimacy, reverence.

Favorite tracks: “Once in Royal David’s City” (from “Hark!”), “That Was the Worst Christmas Ever!”, “Joy to the World”, and “Holy, Holy, Holy”.

Over the Rhine

Snow Angels
Snow Angels

Snow Angels

Over the Rhine has been one of my favorite bands since I first heard them in 2006 (thanks, Ken) but I just discovered last year’s Snow Angels last month. Like Sufjan, Karin and Linford capture the experiences of Christmas with Americana originals, no standards.1

Favorite tracks: “Darlin’ (Christmas Is Coming)”, “White Horse”, “Here It Is”, and “Snow Angel”.

Bing Crosby

Bing Crosby's Christmas Classics
Bing Crosby's Christmas Classics

Bing Crosby’s Christmas Classics

White Christmas is probably my favorite Christmas movie (yes, probably even over A Christmas Story) and that’s almost entirely because of Bing. This album showcases some classic Christmas songs with his classic voice.

Favorite tracks: “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”, “What Child is This? / The Holly and the Ivy”, “O Holy Night”, “The Littlest Angel”

Your Turn

What are your favorite Christmas albums/songs? I’d love to know! I’d like to be prepared for next Christmas, to have a reasonably good collection of music all ready to go. :)

  1. This one just feels like winter. ((Incidentally, their earlier Christmas album, The Darkest Night of the Year, is mostly standards and, though effective, sounds more dated.

Keeping up with politics, revisited

It’s election season here in the United States, and there are a number of big issues facing our country, especially as we look back on the last 4/8/12/16 years and where they’ve brought us.

So a few weeks ago I asked about keeping up with politics. I’m interested in balanced opinions that clearly address issues while informing readers about context (so someone like me, who’s new to some of the specifics, can keep up without getting overwhelmed). A few results:

  • Donklephant remains strong. I’ve been reading them for a year and they’re still my favorite. Their daily Gallup/Rasmussen polls for the upcoming presidential election are icing on the cake.
  • Politico is a favorite of Donklephant that is similarly balanced. (A bit busy though, so I just subscribe to the Top Stories feed.)
  • I found FiveThirtyEight because of their election projections, but their news reporting is also good.
  • The New York Times’ Opinion section is always a good read, particularly David Brooks’ articles. (While I don’t always agree with him, his writing is solid, and he is not partisan.)
  • I’ve also found that Wikipedia (with a healthy dose of objectivity) can be a good source of background information for buzzwords and political history. I know it can’t be counted on for facts, but it’s as unbiased a source as there is and can quickly catch you up on a variety of topics.

I’ve also attempted to keep up with Pennsylvania state and local politics (though no one has helped me here, for shame). This one’s a bit harder, as there is obviously less attention, but so far I’ve found that Keystone Politics has enough news to keep me informed enough.

Of course, this is a very dynamic subject—and a very dynamic time—so I’d appreciate any comments about things I’ve missed!