(Another) Fifteen Songs

Last summer I worked up a post highlighting some 15 songs from my iPod. You’ve probably seen the game before on Facebook or other social media – put your iPod on shuffle and list the first 15 songs that play (no cheating!). I did that post out of stress, and because I couldn’t wrap my head around the fact that I had a ton of games in tow that I wasn’t playing. This second time round, things are no different. I’ve had a stressful but fun holiday weekend and all I really want to do right now is to pop in my earbuds and drift away to the sounds of my music. Plus, it’s Labor Day. Everybody’s still out vacationing, barbecuing, or dead to the world because they’ve done too much of either, or both. I mean, are you really here? Hell, I don’t even know if I’m here. Where am I anyway? And does anybody really know what time it is?

Enough gabbling — let’s get on with the music!

(As with last time, I’ll present short spiels about the first five songs that play, and the rest I’ll list consecutively with links at the end. Click away!)

1. song1

Of course a David Bowie song would show up first! But not just any David Bowie song; one from Labyrinth nonetheless. Like many a young girl who saw this movie and dreamed of being Sarah next to Bowie’s stunning visage and raging codpiece, I fell in love with the singer right then and there. “Magic Dance” is a ridiculously fun, almost nonsensical diddy that Bowie, as Goblin King Jareth, sings to make the stolen Toby (Sarah’s baby brother) feel more at ease among the goblin ranks. It’s not my favorite song from the movie, but helps lighten up the overall madcap tone of the goblins themselves. After all, everyone, even goblins and their king, deserve to have a little mad fun every now and again.

*****

2. song2

Yeah. Sooo…I couldn’t find a video or even a proper link to this song. That’s possibly because…it’s not that good, maybe? Look, I really like DJ Shadow, and I ain’t got any beef with Nump or his abilities, but “Keep Em Close”  just doesn’t do much for me. If you can find the song, take a listen and tell me what you think. As for The Outsider, I don’t know, it’s a good but not great album. It’s not the DJ Shadow I know from albums like Preemptive Strike, a masterpiece in sound and design (imho). So that explains the video. And I’ll readily admit that not everything on my iPod is a winner, even to my own ears.

*****

3. song3

Before the “ooga chaka” version of this song that was unleashed upon the world in the 1970s, which was only made worse in in later years by a goddamned dancing baby and David Hasselhoff, B. J. Thomas brought us a lovely and simply tale of a lover obsessed set to a late sixties twang. As many of you know, this song, again with the ooga chakas, made it’s way back into the collective memory thanks to Guardians of the Galaxy. It’s a great song and one that deserves to be resurrected every now and again, no matter the version.

*****

4. song4

Though it’s not a “musical” in the traditional sense, Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story is probably my most favorite musical movie of the past decade. After seeing the movie, I simply had to have the soundtrack. And not just because of the mostly hilarious songs, but because John C. Reilly is a damn fine singer! I love the Forrest Gump-ness of Dewey Cox, and Reilly does so well in both parodying and paying tribute to musical genres of the pasty forty years.

*****

5. song5

Having spent part of my youth mired (happily, for the most part) in piano lessons, I quickly learned that Frederic Chopin was, for many player, the ultimate pianist. Having parents who pretty much only allowed classical music in the house, I listened to my far share of his work. We had a number of albums devoted to individual artists and his work, and I came to really like the Chopin one. I love the sound of a single piano playing anyway (classical, jazz, doesn’t matter), and Chopin’s music racked with quiet and beautiful emotion. This nocturne is one of his more familiar works, but if you like what you hear, I highly recommend exploring more of his catalog. His range is quite remarkable.

*****

And here are songs 6 through 15:

  1. Can’t Stand Beggin’ – DJ Y alias JY
  2. 3 Freaks (Droop-E Remix) – DJ Shadow feat. Mistah Fab, Turf Talk, and Keak Da Sneak
  3. Everything I Want to Be – Save Ferris
  4. Raise Your Hand – Janis Joplin
  5. We’re Only Gonna Die – Bad Religion
  6. Out of My Hands – The Donnas
  7. Winter (Allegro non molto): The Four Seasons – Antonio Vivaldi, performed Camerata Academia Salzburg
  8. Maiden Goes to Hollywood – Wax Audio
  9. Darkwood (Fable) – Russell Shaw
  10. Sid Gurney, Mall Cop – Bob and Tom radio show

So there ya go, another holiday ’bout to be in the bag, another fifteen songs. Hope everyone out there has enjoyed or is still enjoying a great holiday weekend! As for me, I may or may not be able to hork out a post this Wednesday. If I rise up from  my stupor later, we’ll see how things go.

iTunes Diaries, entry #20: “Hell-Bent” by Kenna

I was once a little…um, okay, terribly obsessed with iTunes.  I got my first iPod in 2004 and became immediately entranced by Apple’s seeming infinite lists of music for sale.  Over the years, I spent way too much time on iTunes and spent way too much money on music, some of which was great, and some of which was not.  In 2011, for the sake of my sanity and my bank account, I went cold turkey.  I suspended my iTunes activities and completely stopped visiting site.  With the iTunes Diaries, I take a look back, highlighting the good, the bad, and the ugly in music that I just had to have in the moment. 

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Sometimes my interest in a piece of music has more to do with its delivery than with the song itself. A perfect example of this is “Hell-Bent” by Kenna from his album New Sacred Cow (2003). A couple years prior to its release, I read a story about this little stop-motion video that was taking the world by storm! Only, not so much. In fact, it was barely making waves, and I’m pretty sure I only heard about it because of my tenuous theatre connections. The short was called “More” by Mark Osborne.

Turned out that the reason the video was in the news was because it was up for a couple awards, namely an Academy Award (which it won). I saw the video on Sci-Fi (now “SyFy” and anything but) on a program (the name of which is escaping me at the moment, though I could probably look for it because Internet but I won’t) that showed science-fictiony short films. “More” presented a very heartfelt and sad depiction of one characters’ search for meaning, and visions from it became forever infused in my memory banks.

Time passed and one day I caught wind of an artist named Kenna. He was…how did the critics put it?…indescribable and unable to be categorized. Or something like that. Basically Kenna was (and still is) a musician who created to the beat of his own drum. He was therefore labeled “alternative,” which then meant that he ended up on the local “alternative” radio station. For me, listening to Kenna for the first time was kind of like listening to TV on The Radio with “I like this…maybe? I can’t tell” running through my mind. “Hell-Bent,” which was released to buzzworthy acclaim in 2001, wasn’t my normal fare at the time. It wasn’t loud, loose, hard, electric, or even poppy. It was sweeping and calling, yet almost formulaic in its approach. Like every note had to meet its premeditated destiny or else. Despite my questioning of its musicality, the lyrics spoke to me with plenty of feeling. When the song came on the radio, I listened. And I eventually came to accept the notes that went along with the words.

What was it that elevated the song from mere tolerance to a must-have? This:

Hell-Bent (video) by Kenna

(Sorry for posting just the link. My attempts at embedding the video have proved unsuccessful. But the link does work and will get you to my point. Pinky swear.)

You caught that i’ss the same video as “More,” right? When I first saw it on MTV, I was like “Hey, it’s the gray guys!” I was a bit floored to see the video again overlain with Kenna’s sound and music. But it work, and it worked so well. Seeing this really great and memorable short film with “Hell-Bent” struck a chord that forever placed Kenna close to my musical heart.

A few years later, with iPod in hand, It made complete sense for me to memorialize this relationship by purchasing this song. I now can’t help but visualize the gray world of “Happy” and “Bliss” whenever I hear the song. The two have, in my mind, become inextricably linked.

Kenna - New Sacred Cow (2003)

Kenna – New Sacred Cow (2003)

Totally 80s: The Challenger space shuttle

Welcome the next installment of my year-long look back at the decade that was ruled by big hair and bigger egos. Every other week I’ll be covering pop culture tidbits from the 1980s, sharing memories, choking on the ridiculousness, and maybe offering an insight or two into what made the 1980s so great/bad/silly. Serving as my inspiration are two lists from Buzzfeed, and I’ll include links to the original list items in each post. So throw on your neon windbreaker, lace up your hi-tops, and adjust your Wayfarers, because this DeLorean is taking off! (Ugh. Did I really just type that? Gag me with spoon, seriously.)

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List item #5 from 50 Things only ’80s Kids Can Understand

Remembering where you were when the Challenger disaster happened.

© ABC News (1986)

© ABC News (1986)

I was at home.

I don’t remember why I was at home, but that’s where I was. Maybe I was sick. Maybe we were snowed in. Maybe the school allowed it because the Challenger launch on Tuesday, January 28, 1986, was kind of big deal.

I was then nearing the end of elementary school, and up to that launch, my life had been, in one way or another, consumed by the Challenger. And I don’t mean that in a bad way, (like when the Iran-Contra hearings took over the airwaves just a few years later) because the whole affair was perfectly electric!

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Goat Cheese Salad

cary:

I don’t think I’m alone in saying that food is good thing. A great thing. MAYBE THE BEST THING EVAR?!

Ahem.

In recent months, I had thought of adding a food component to my blog — recipes, dinner outings, and shopping adventures wrapped in the warm blanket of nostalgia. But the idea remained nebulous as I couldn’t quite figure out just how to shoehorn all that into my humble online abode. Enter 8Bit Kitchen to the rescue! I caught a post over on Herding Cats about this new collaborative blog where gamers and foodies (and foodie gamers) could come together to share in their respective loves. Food blogging problem solved! Well…once I asked to join, that is. With everything worked out, I’m onto my second post (below), and I anticipate posting recipes and food stories to the site a few times a month. So stop on over won’t you? And why not bookmark and share 8Bit Kitchen if you like what you see? 8Bit Kitchen is where gamers and food meet, and you’ll meet lots of awesome people to follow while you’re there (as well as all things FOOD)!

You can also follow @8BitKitchen over on Twitter.  Feed your feed!

Originally posted on 8bit Kitchen:

With hot and humid temperatures still in full swing, here’s one of my favorite summer salads. Granted, this is a “cooked” salad, and maybe the results are closer to “veggies on toast” than “salad,” but it works nonetheless. I adapted it from a recipe by the same name from one of my favorite cookbooks — Favorite Recipes: Vegetarian (Parragon, 1999). I added in a couple things and deleted others (olive paste — yuck). I also changed things up a little in order to utilize our toaster oven rather than the regular oven, which heats up the house in a flash. Instructions for both are below.

This recipe makes four portions, each with three pieces of goat cheese. A couple portions of this salad are filling enough for a light dinner, or single portions serve as a great accompaniments to just about any meal.

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Goat Cheese Salad

Ingredients:

1 loaf…

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Giant Mario! You get to be G-I-A-N-T!!

Before I saw that first commercial for New Super Mario Bros. (NSMB) on the Nintendo DS, I can honestly say it had been years since I thought of a side-scrolling Mario game. I mean…like, SNES years. As most of us know, that system provided to the world some of the best Mario games around. And then Super Mario 64 was released, and it changed everyone’s perceptions of platform gaming, Mario, and even Nintendo. In the Mario cannon, I guess…what, 2002’s Super Mario Sunshine would be NSMB.’s closest relative. So why wait four years, not just to give the world another Mario game, but to give the world another 2D side-scrolling Mario game? And not just any 2D side-scrolling Mario game, but a complete retool of the original NES Super Mario Bros.?

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Project 151: Get while the getting’s good

The gaming fates (at least as far as Pokemon is concerned) have been on my side over the past few weeks, as me and my little Charmelon-turned-Charizard have made significant progress!

Up 16 hours from  my last entry -- that's damn fine, I say I say!

Up 16 hours from my last entry — that’s damn fine, I say I say!

Yes, thanks to a combination of insomnia, downtime during travel, and favoring LeafGreen above all other games of late, I hit a high note over the past several weeks. I’m not sure that the good getting will last too much longer, but I’m enjoying it for what it’s worth. As I mentioned before, the game is turning out to be much more enjoyable than I had anticipated, and…well…I’m pretty sure that the preconceived notions I had held about Pokemon have almost dissolved. As an example, here’s my internal commentary from a recent interlude I call “I Want a Snorlax, Dammit!”

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Totally 80s: Strawberry Shortcake

Welcome the next installment of my year-long look back at the decade that was ruled by big hair and bigger egos. Every other week I’ll be covering pop culture tidbits from the 1980s, sharing memories, choking on the ridiculousness, and maybe offering an insight or two into what made the 1980s so great/bad/silly. Serving as my inspiration are two lists from Buzzfeed, and I’ll include links to the original list items in each post. So throw on your neon windbreaker, lace up your hi-tops, and adjust your Wayfarers, because this DeLorean is taking off! (Ugh. Did I really just type that? Gag me with spoon, seriously.)

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List item #27 from 53 Things Only 80s Girls Can Understand

The delicious smell of Rose Petal and Strawberry Shortcake dolls.

Strawberry Shortcake and Custard the Cat. A timeless pairing.

Strawberry Shortcake and Custard the Cat. A timeless pairing.

Pardon the Seinfeldian introduction, but was WAS the deal with smelly toys in the 1980s? Seriously. It was like at some point, some one in the toy world made the god-like decision that ALL toys had to smell like plasticized fruit. It’s no wonder that we became all shitforbrains about gross neon colors and stupidly big hair — we had been raised high on fumes!

The first time I recall seeing anything Strawberry Shortcake was on one of those cute but chintzy valentines cards that we used to dole out to friends in February in grade school. Then, one of my best friends made us all totes jealous by bringing her brand new Strawberry Shortcake doll to school! She was so very adorbs in her wittle pink and red dress and frizzy hair and green-striped tights! And by all and all, did she smell….delightful! Like freshly picked strawberries! Or so my young mind thought in the moment. I was completely enthralled at the notion of a strawberry-themed doll actually smelling like strawberries that I decided I HAD TO HAVE ONE. Sadly, my parents and I weren’t exactly on the same page when it came to toys. So most of my initial exposure to the brand was through my friends’ collection. (The same friend who also became the My Little Pony enthusiast.) That and an accompanying cartoon, because ANY toy worth its salt HAD to have a Saturday morning cartoon. This is a fact that we’ve already established.

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At the Buzzer’s Top 25 Characters of All-Time

cary:

Just like and good, red-blooded, organizationally-inclined American, I love me a good list. So when the awesome folks behind At The Buzzer invited me to join in making a list of all-time favorite video game characters, of course I said YES! (They’ve enlisted a whole bunch of great folks for the task, including the wonderful @simpleekgrl of Simpleek!) Here I’m reblogging the introductory post to the whole shebang. This month the countdown starts with favorite male characters; female characters follow next month. Click through to head over to ATB where you can follow, comment, and vote on the list as it happens. Who’s cuisine will reign supreme?! Err…uh, I mean, video games! (Though I am a little hungry right now…) Which video game character will rule our hearts forever and ever? You’ve got to follow along to find out!

Originally posted on At the Buzzer:

characters

Last year, we assembled a team to decide the 25 best games of all-time. Then, in March, we selected the 25 best Pokemon of all-time. Now? Now we’re expanding our horizons a bit.

We’ve decided to go through the hundreds of thousands of video game characters ever created and make our picks for the 25 best. This is going to be a two-month endeavor, because we’re going to break it down in a battle of the sexes. First up in August is the males, then the females will take center stage in September, before our final group list comes together in early October.

We’ve put together a panel of ATB stars and guests and friends of the show to narrow down the list. Today is just an introduction. Starting tomorrow, we’ll count down all the way to the best male character of all-time on Aug. 31. And you’ll…

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