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Best CDs of 2018 According to an Old Guy Who Bought 6

2018 cds!

Pretty sure that paltry number still puts me in the upper 10% of American physical media shoppers.

It’s that time again! The annual entry where I look back at the previous year as one of seven people nationwide who still prefers compact discs to digital. I’d probably also count myself among the trendier listeners still collecting vinyl if my last record player hadn’t given up the ghost about twenty years ago. I don’t splurge too much because it’s increasingly tougher for new music to catch my ear as I grow older and more finicky, and as my favorite acts of yesteryear die, stop recording, or turn toward musical directions that take them beyond my zones of interest. That usually means missing out on what the majority loves, thus further dragging me down the long plummet into total irrelevance.

The following list, then, comprises every CD I acquired in 2018 that was also released in 2018. On with the countdown in all its lack of diversity, from the kinda-not-for-me to the unexpectedly inspirational.

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“Bumblebee”: Bay Ban Breeds Better Bug-Bot Battle Ballet

bumblebee!

Not quite life-size, but close.

“Midlife Crisis Crossover calls Bumblebee the Greatest Transformers Film of All Time!” is how I expected to lead off this entry. With Michael Bay out of the director’s chair (though still credited as an executive producer) and replaced by Travis Knight (Kubo and the Two Strings), it couldn’t possibly be another empty failure.

After seeing the film, which was fine, I’m not yet feeling the “Greatest” superlative.

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“Mary Poppins Returns”: Sequel Gal a Frabjous Mystic, Extra Braggadocious

Mary Poppins Returns!

Meanwhile in the evil Mirror Universe, a misbegotten Mary Poppins reboot rues its poor box office and looks upon our universe’s sequel in envy.

Anne and I haven’t watched the original Mary Poppins in 35-40 years. We had considered revisiting it before lining up for director Rob Marshall’s showy happy sequel, but all the legal streaming services wanted twelve bucks or more for one (1) showing of one (1) 54-year-old film. We moved on without it.

I remember very little of the plot, but the songs have haunted me ever since. Credit goes mostly to the legendary songwriting team of Robert and Richard Sherman, and partly to my grade-school music teacher Mrs. Quebbeman, later Mrs. Surdi when she remarried. She taught us songs we never wanted to know (“Up with People”), didn’t notice when a few of us discovered the new fad called “lip-syncing” in sixth grade, assigned me solos in three consecutive Christmas programs while I still had a stable singing voice, and blessedly introduced us to the wonders of wooden percussion, “The Rainbow Connection”, “Danse Macabre”, and at least half the Mary Poppins soundtrack. For me the film may have faded, but the tunes remain etched into my brain. Long after all the useful parts have shut down, I’ll be in my bed humming the chorus from “Step in Time” till the end of days.

Sadly, Mrs. Surdi passed away about a month ago. She was firmly in my thoughts as Mary Poppins Returns played on. Thanks to her, I knew ahead of time there’s no way I’d like the sequel more than the original. But sometimes it’s nice to sit back, be patient, listen closely, and wait to be surprised at what sticks.

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An Old-Fashioned Christmas-Card Christmas

Christmas Cards!

Shout-out to the 15 keeping it old-school.

In the ancient days of the twentieth century, before the internet normalized access to instantaneous contact with other humans thousands of miles away, keeping in touch with distant family and friends took effort and/or money. Long-distance calls weren’t included free in our monthly phone bills and racked up astronomical charges if we stayed on the line more than a few minutes. Cross-country travel was affordable for upper classes but a luxury beyond the reach of my family. That left two choices on the table for us: making do with happy thoughts and prayers; or the United States Postal Service.

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Thanksgiving Between the Christmas Cues

Thursday paper!

Another ancient tradition falling by the wayside in today’s culture: newspapers thrown on driveways.

Before our first glimpse of Thanksgiving turkey or family, my long holiday weekend kicked off after work Wednesday when I arrived home around 4 p.m. to find Thursday morning’s newspaper already delivered, articles and all. The largest physical edition every year, Thanksgiving Day papers are coveted for their Black Friday ads, more or less the official Christmas season launch. Shoppers can’t wait to get started on it — hence more and more stores reopening on Thanksgiving itself, hours ahead of the Black Friday starter pistols. It stands to reason our carrier couldn’t wait to get past it, to unload this newsprint behemoth as soon as possible.

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Stan Lee 1922-2018

Stan Lee!

Stan “The Man” Lee and a brief moment with one fan among the millions he entertained, inspired, and/or taught life lessons to through super-heroes and the power of comic books.

I knew something had gone wrong with the day when two coworkers approached and interrupted met at lunch. They usually know better, but they felt it was their duty to break the news to me that the legendary Stan Lee himself had at long last passed away at age 95. In many ways I’m glad they were the messengers, as opposed to finding out by stumbling into random, cryptic retweets from strangers.

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