Best Things this Year (2017)

Twin Peaks: The Return
Twin Peaks: The Return

Every year I write a recap of things I did and enjoyed. 2017 was packed. I re-read my 2016 recap and there’s a lot of despair, but I’m glad it didn’t slow me down. Maybe it was motivating.

TV / Movies
Twin Peaks: The Return
Silicon Valley
The Leftovers
The Big Sick
Coco
Get Out
Lion
Mother!
The Last Jedi
Logan
Coraline
Manchester and the Sea

Music
The Blow – Brand New Abyss
Beck – Colors
(Sandy) Alex G – Trick
(Sandy) Alex G – Rocket
Fruitbats

This song by the Chromatics

Games
Zelda: Breath of the Wild
HQTrivia
Monument Valley 2

Books
Operation Manual for Spaceship Earth by Buckminster Fuller
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
The Functional Art by Alberto Cairo
Harry Potter and the Sourcerer’s Stone by JK Rowling
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by JK Rowling
The Amber Spyglass by Phillip Pullman
Tigerstar and Sasha by Erin Hunter (at the request of my daughter)
The Runic Warriors by Mickey Wren
Radical Candor by Kim Scott
Acceptance by Jeff VanderMeer

Travel
Kyiv – I spent a week in Ukraine! Magento has a huge office in Kyiv and I spent some time there in March working on the new Advanced Reporting feature that was just released in Magento 2.2.2. Kyiv (don’t say Kiev) is a beautiful city and I hope to go back.
Boston, MA – I attended the OpenVisConf in April and it pushed me to complete more dataviz projects this year.
Milwaukee, WI
Antioch, Illinois
Falling Water, the Frank Lloyd Wright house near Pittsburgh

Speaking Gigs
In January I gave a talk about HTML5 canvas at the Philly Front-End / UX meetup at Industrious.
I went to BarCampPhilly for the first time in a while and gave a talk on Dataviz with Semiotic.
I gave a talk on Lineage v2 at the Philly D3 User Group Meetup
I spoke at the Data Labs meetup in Wilmington, DE in November about Dataviz and Storytelling.

The Data Labs meetup in Wilmington
The Data Labs meetup in Wilmington

Podcast
I was a guest on the Data Labs podcast to talk about data visualization. I talked too much, but it was fun.

Plot Device
I started a new dataviz site called Plot Device which features 6 projects I did this year. So far they all use Semiotic. I’m especially proud of my work visualizing auto fatalities and Twin Peaks Halloween costumes.

Visualizing the top Twin Peaks Halloween costumes
Visualizing the top Twin Peaks Halloween costumes

Porchfest
I participated in the Collingswood Porchfest and had a blast.

Collingswood Porch Fest
Collingswood Porch Fest

Lineage v2
I launched v2 of Lineage, my genealogical data express engine, which I rewrote using D3 v4. It now includes a timeline and a surname categorical view.

I rewrote and added new features in Lineage v2
I rewrote and added new features in Lineage v2

Magento BI Essentials
In April we launched a new product called Magento BI Essentials, which is a fast, low cost, modern, business intelligence platform for Magento merchants and it’s freaking amazing. It features fast onboarding (15 minutes), low data latency, and powerful data modeling. I’m so proud of the work my team did this year.

Odyssey of the Mind
The Mind Masters won their regional tournament this year and competed at the State Finals. Their skit was about a super hero who was kind of like Aquaman for landfills (he can talk to garbage trucks). I loved it and so did the judges.

Therapy
I started seeing a therapist twice/month for all of 2017 and I highly recommend it. Feel free to reach out if you have questions about it and thanks to all the people who answered mine.

Previous years
2016
2015
2014
2013
2012
2011

Friday, 10/18/12 opening for the Jersey Corn Pickers

On Friday, 10/18/12 I’ll be opening for the Jersey Corn Pickers at the Bus Stop Cafe in Pitman, NJ! I go on at 7:00PM sharp and will be play mostly originals with a few covers mixed in. I haven’t played in forever and can’t wait. See you then!

Bus Stop Cafe
148 South Broadway
Pitman, NJ.
(856) 582-0009

I don’t promote my music on here as much as I used to. Here’s a couple of my songs to give you an idea of what I sound like. Live, it will just be me and a guitar.

99%
Ponies

The Cut in Half Blues (Beck Cover)

Running Mix for Tomorrow’s Race

Chuck Berry – Maybellene
The Blow – Eat Your Heart Up
Ween – It’s Gonna Be A Long Night
The National – Abel
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah – Upon This Tidal Wave Of Young Blood
The Bloodhound Gang – Ralph Wiggum
Beck – Mattress
Neutral Milk Hotel – Holland, 1945
White Stripes – Blue Orchid
Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Date With The Night
Pixies – Isla De Encanta

Top Ten Albums of the 00’s I Forgot to Include

Two days after I posted my list of the Top Ten Albums of the Decade I noticed some glaring omissions.

10. Franz FerdinandYou Could Have it So Much Better, 2004
9. RadioheadHail to the Thief, 2003
8. BlurThink Tank, 2003
7. FeistThe Reminder, 2007
6. Of MontrealThe Sunlandic Twins, 2005
5. The StrokesIs This It, 2001
4. Frank Black and the CatholicsDog in the Sand, 2001

Frank Black and the Catholics
Frank Black and the Catholics

3. InterpolTurn on the Bright Lights, 2002
2. Tapes n’ TapesThe Loon, 2006
1. Flaming LipsYoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, 2002

What was I thinking?
What was I thinking?

My Ten Favorite Albums of the Decade

They say the older you get the faster time goes by, but 2000 – 2009 seemed like a long time to me. I don’t know if this decade offered a whole lot of originality or if I was just too lazy to find it. The main thing I took away from it was that the music I listened to in the 90’s was mostly crap and holding on to it for nostalgic reasons could pose a health risk. Still, the zeros weren’t completely devoid of good music.

10. Yeah Yeah YeahsShow your Bones, 2006 – Their breakout album, 2003’s Fever to Tell, was fun but had too many cringe moments for me when I wished the lyrics were more thought out or the music was more interesting. The best three songs on the album are the last three mellower tracks; Maps, Y-Control, and Modern Romance. I thought Show Your Bones showcased Karen O’s range and songwriting and felt a lot less gimmicky than Fever to Tell. I’m couldn’t be more envious of Nick Zinner’s guitar work, too.

Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Yeah Yeah Yeahs

9. Wolf ParadeApologies to the Queen Mary, 2005 – I have a confession. Until I saw them live in 2007 I didn’t realize Wolf Parade had two singers. Seems F’ing ridiculous to me now, since they sound and write so differently.

8. The NationalBoxer, 2007 – Another example of a followup album surpassing the breakout, but even more so. On Boxer, the National finally figured out what the hell to do with Matt Berniger’s voice (ie. raise the tempo just slightly and elevate the drums on the mix). It wasn’t a huge change from Alligator, but it sounded better.

7. The Blow Paper Television, 2006 – I was late to this band, but found them through last.fm this year while painting my son’s room. On came True Affection and I instantly fell in love with Mikhaela Maricich’s voice and songwriting. It’s electro-folk-pop and Eat Your Heart Up is the power song on my iPod when running.

6. BeckSea Change, 2002 – Flashback to the late 90’s: Beck ruled my life. There was no other stronger musical influence than Odelay, Mellow Gold, and One Foot in the Grave. I adored Midnight Vultures. I wasn’t a huge fan of Mutations, but I still excited when I heard Beck was going to continue his alternating Rock and Folk albums. Sea Change ended up being his last truly original statement as an artist. He’s still relevant. He’s still putting out good music, but Sea Change was the last time he blew anyone’s mind. It’s easy to remember things differently before Beck was an XPN staple, but despite the Grammy and awards for Odelay, many people pegged Beck as a novelty… especially musicians. He was a few rungs above Weird Al and the Monster Mash and it was ok to listen to him once and a while, but he shouldn’t be taken seriously. On Sea Change he surprised us by being serious.

5. Modest mouseThe Moon and Antarctica, 2000 – It’s hard to believe this album came out this decade (and yes I’m including 2000 in decade, otherwise I’d be doing this list next year). I have a soft spot for any songs that throw in weird questions about space and time and try to connect them to humanity. On this album they do that better than anyone.

4. Clap Your Hands Say YeahClap Your Hands Say Yeah, 2006 – It’s almost a crime that this is above the Moon and Antarctica, but that tells you how much I like this. My fascination with this band started back in 2003 when I saw Alec Ounsworth at an open mic in Philly. Their debut album was a battle between being a pop band or an art band with the pop side winning a little. Their later efforts have been less interesting so far, but what a start. I listened to it thousands of times.

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah

3. Black keysThickfreakness, 2003 – Dan Auerbach is a guitar god in a world where kids stand in front of the TV pretending to play guitar for their video game system. It would be like if Tiger Woods showed up just as miniature golf overtook golf’s popularity. The Black Keys are a 20ish, two piece, garage-blues band from Akron, Ohio and they should be loved by everyone.

The Black Keys
The Black Keys

2. The White StripesElephant, 2003 – For better or worse, I think the White Stripes defined the decade. They were fresh, but retro. Simple, but artsy. Somehow, they came up with a Smoke-On-The-Wateresque riff that no one had thought of before and called it Seven Nation Army. It helped to kill off some of the god awful bands popular at the time and Elephant was the album that established their reign over the first half of the Zeros.

1. Arcade FireFuneral, 2004 – I don’t know how anyone can be in a band as large as Arcade Fire. I can barely stand to play with 2 or 3 others, much less the 10 or 12 in Arcade Fire. They were somehow able to record the best album of decade. I didn’t write this list because I think I’m a great writer. I wrote it to make sure anyone who reads it buys this album.

Arcade Fire
Arcade Fire

Local Music Playlist

I’ve been meaning to do this forever and it’s been sitting my drafts bin for month. ?Here’s a list of some great local singer-songwriters and bands who I’ve played with over the years.

Bevin Caulfield – Close
Catchy, simple, but the song’s real draw are the campy innuendos. ? Bevin’s unique singing style keeps it interesting and it’s no wonder she gets pestered to play this song every time she walks into Studio Luloo.

yearlongday – simple
Think of Belle and Sebastian as a rough acoustic duo.? yearlongday is not the typical group you expect to hear at local shows, but if you live in the South Jersey / Philly area you might.? The first time I heard them I was hypnotized.

Sweetheart Parade – Crooked Crow
When you see Sweetheart Parade live you may notice the singer’s missing fingers and interesting guitar setup (upside down, left handed, funky tuning), but there’s no way you can miss Josh Britton’s powerfullty effortless voice.? Their CD is great, but Josh brings the house down on Crooked Crow. ?It should be played during the ending credits of an episode of True Blood.

Apple of Discord – The World Will Never Defeat You
Myspace it cut off the last character, so it’s not titled “The World Will Never Defeat Yo.” ?I’ve only seen them live once or twice, but they’re really tight and when I bought one of their CDs, Nelson looked sad and said, “oh, that’s the one I’m not on.” ?This is probably my favorite song of theirs, even if I disagree with the title. ?Sometimes the world wins.

The Silence Kit – Reassurement
If you like The National and Radiohead you will love this band. Eight Years is my favorite song of theirs, but I couldn’t find it online.

Relay – Forgot to Tell You
I am a big fan of my cousin Mark’s band.? This is one of my favorite newer songs of theirs and it’s as fun on their album as it is live.

Adrien Reju – A Million Hearts
I met Adrien in 2002 and I haven’t heard a Philly singer/songwriter with a better voice yet. ?She’s in NY now, but I’ll always be a fan.

Jeff Ritchie – Sing the Note of Just Tryin’
Jeff used to stop by my open mic years ago and I always liked his stuff. ?It’s lo-fi, acoustic droll music that I think must have like 8 fans in the world and I’m one of them.

Johnny Miles – Modern Man
“Can’t Explain” is definitely my favorite Johnny Miles song, but Modern Man is great.

Sarah Allen – How Come You Don’t Call Me Anymore?
Not local anymore, but after hearing Sarah play once a week for over a year, it was so hard to run the open mic after she moved to North Carolina.? She has some songs that are recorded better, but I love this because it takes me back to 2004. ?Can’t find this online anywhere, so you’re screwed.

Rob Whitekettle – The Pop Tart Song
How many times can you trick the Devil?? Can you sell your soul to the Devil for Pop Tarts?? This song takes on the tough questions.

John Shaughnessy – Feelin’ Good Again
Could easily be a song by Mathew Sweet, Fountains of Wayne, or the band from That Thing You Do. ?Also, check out Roberta Part 2.

Sara O’Brien – Train to the Moon
Only Sara O’Brien could get away with line about porn stars with kids singing backup vocals. ?Fun song.