CDs that survived the purge

There’s a massive purge afoot at the Swegler household, part of which involves sorting through hundreds of CDs precariously stacked in the living room and sending most of them to the thrift store.

In this era of MP3s, there’s no reason to clutter up the place with jewel cases. Some albums, however, evoke very specific times or sentiments, so they live on in the CD rack. A few of them…

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Old 97′s review: TLA 12-11-10

Last Saturday, the Old 97’s wrapped up the current leg of their tour at Philly’s TLA, the best music venue in town (with the possible exception of Johnny Brenda’s).

They’ve been around since 1993, but I know and love them best for Wreck Your Life, Too Far to Care, Fight Songs, and Satellite Rides, a progression of records that gradually moves from alt-county to pop, mostly with very clever songwriting. Some of my best musical memories are Old 97’s shows from that era.

Because of those memories, I compulsively get tickets whenever the band comes through town, even though I don’t like much of their more recent work. It’s time to stop attending the shows and just be thankful for the fun we had back in the late 90s and early 00s.

While the prevalence of new music in the set was expected (it’s the reason they’re touring, after all), the set list had no momentum, and many of their older selections weren’t the best representation of the Old 97’s glory alt-country days.  Busted Afternoon?  Lonely Holiday?

They did, of course, do Barrier Reef, and they ended the evening with Time Bomb. I can think of few better ways to end a show, but it took a long time to get there.

This is the Week That Is

One of my favorite Philly Christmas traditions is seeing 1812 Production’s annual holiday show. Since 2006 (mostly), that show has been This is the Week That Is, a political satire sketch comedy.

After a weaker year in 2009 (Bush was out, and Obama was still on his honeymoon, so maybe there just wasn’t as much material?), This is the Week That Is is back with a vengeance in 2010. Scott Greer rejoins the cast, which is huge. He is a very funny man.

The best sketch by far was an Alice in Wonderland trip in which the Alice character falls through the rabid hole, meets up with Twitterdumb and Twitterdumber, and finally arrives at the Tea Party. As in previous years, the production incorporates multimedia, puns, and Tony Braithwaite at the newsdesk.

Extremely recommended!

2010 “Wanamaker” Light Show

2010 Light Show at Philadelphia's Macys

Nothing like the awful, sweltering summer of 2010 to make you appreciate what a great cold-weather city Philadelphia is.  Maybe it’s the pre-holiday glow, but everywhere we went this weekend was warm, welcoming, and cozy.

Friday night was the annual trip to Macys for the current incarnation of the Wanamaker’s Light Show.  In the early-to-mid 2000s, this Philadelphia tradition entered a dark era.  People still gathered in the grand old department store to see the Sugarplum Fairy, Rudolph, and Frosty, but the show’s higher-maintenance elements gradually disappeared, starting with the fountains and the Santa Express train and ending with the tragic demise of the Magic Christmas Tree in 2004.  And no, that’s not hyperbole.  It really was tragic.

Enter Macys.  Say what you want about this bastion of consumer whoredom, it’s the first modern tenant of the Wanamaker Building to invest in Philadelphia’s beloved tradition.  Even though the new LED light board isn’t quite as folksy as the old version, the animated snowmen and trumpet-playing bears are just as charming.  And in 2008, the Magic Christmas Tree returned, and I did not cry.

And I also don’t cry during the show’s finale, when the organ blares and every single bulb on that board lights up in a joyous, kitschy display.

South Philly light tour

South Philly light tour

Chris delivers his annual hoppy holidays Christmas card….

Chris delivers his annual hoppy holidays Christmas card.  It’s good to have friends who brew.