As I mentioned recently, I tend to listen to podcasts more than music when exercising these days, but in light of the passing of Prince, it has been 48 hours of Prince songs (I had to dig out the o…
Source: Royal Discography
As I mentioned recently, I tend to listen to podcasts more than music when exercising these days, but in light of the passing of Prince, it has been 48 hours of Prince songs (I had to dig out the o…
Source: Royal Discography
As I mentioned recently, I tend to listen to podcasts more than music when exercising these days, but in light of the passing of Prince, it has been 48 hours of Prince songs (I had to dig out the old iPod to do this). Prince on YouTube, Prince on AppleTV, and Prince while walking on the treadmill.
When I first heard that he had died, I stated that Prince’s death was going to be tougher on me than Bowie. Not just because Prince was a bigger artist and I liked his music more–both are true, but they are not the only reasons. I did not really get into music until 1983. Sure, I would listen to the occasional family 8-track tape before that, but popular music (and Saturday mornings listening to American Top 40) did not start until then. While I know that Prince had three albums and several hits before that year, it felt like he truly arrived with the late 1982 release of 1999. I do now enjoy much of his earlier work, particularly “Why You Wanna Treat Me So Bad?” (although as a piece of advice, if you are trying to rev your wife’s engine, saying that your sex life is like a Prince song, with you being “Soft” and her being “Wet” does not work that well), but 1983 is when I started to love Prince.
I think more people at the time loved “Little Red Corvette, but the jarring combination of uptown dance beat and “the world is ending”lyrics was so damn appealing. At one point I was sure that Prince sang all the parts on the song, including the female-sounding parts. Going by the expertise one finds at Wikipedia, I have now learned that Wendy and Lisa from the Revolution handled the ladies singing. When “1999” came out in 1982, the year seemed so far off, like 100 years in the future. It was less than two decades away, and we did not get our flying cars and monkey butlers. (Although, when Prince sang about people who “…run from their destruction…” do you think he was predicting the Y2K problem?)
I did not see Purple Rain in theaters when it came out in 1984–it was an ‘R’ rated film and I was a nerdy-follow the rules 15-year-old (as opposed to now, where I am a nerdy-follow the rules 47-year-old). It wasn’t until three years later that I saw the movie on VHS. The film was amazing, but my favorite part of the film was Morris Day and the Time. I purchased their album Ice Cream Castle based on their appearance in the film. I enjoyed their record, but the soundtrack was inescapable that summer and for the rest of the year. While these three were the big hits from the album, I remember having that soundtrack on cassette and listening to it beginning to end almost nightly. That’s an album I can brag about listening to all the time, along with Born in the U.S.A, Synchronicity, Thriller, and Strong Persuader. It’s a little harder for me to brag about how often I listened to Chicago’s 17.
Like everyone else, I was dying to see how Prince would follow up the success of Purple Rain. I remember initially having mixed feelings about the song “Raspberry Beret,” but the more I heard it on the radio, the more it grew on me. Both of these songs from Around the World in a Day seem more airy than Prince’s earlier work, but his ability to shift gears really made him stand out from his musical contemporaries.
Talk about standing out–I needed no time for this to grow on me; I loved it from the first listen, and I ran out and purchased it on 45. I also enjoyed the cover of the song done by Tom Jones and the Art of Noise. (If you want an underrated greatest hits album, go get the best of the Art of Noise).
Once again, Prince shifted gears, giving us a powerful song about the issues of the day. Thanks to “Sign o’ the Times” I learned what horse was. I also learned that the sweet, innocent Sheena Easton of “9 to 5 (Morning Train)”, “For Your Eyes Only”, and “We’ve Got Tonight” was gone, thanks to the raw sexiness of “U Got the Look.” Frankly, I should have figured that out sooner, particularly when she oh so subtly asked people to spend the night inside her “Sugar Walls.” Like horse, it took me time to understand what exactly she was getting at.
This is the single I have been listening to the most since I heard of his passing. I think it’s the “slipped through the crack” song. You know when an artist has a deep catalog of songs, some do not get the attention that others do, and you often re-discover the song later. Sometime you think “cool, so-and-so has a new album out” only to discover that it’s a song years or even decades old.
One song I do not have in my Prince selection is “Batdance.” When Batman came out in 1989, I made the choice to purchase the instrumental soundtrack by Danny Elfman rather than the Prince release. This was clearly a mistake, as thanks to ownership complications, none of Prince’s songs from it can appear on his greatest hits/B-sides CDs that I listen to. I mentioned on Facebook recently that no artist could have taken “Batdance” to #1 other than Prince and I still believe that. I think it would have seemed like a joke in the hands of any other, but if you watch Batman, it’s clear the film was influenced by Prince and not the other way around. Prince’s success with the film is nice to see, as it was clear with Under the Cherry Moon and Graffiti Bridge that Prince was not going to replicate the success of Purple Rain, at least not on screen. The album by the same name worked, producing “Thieves in the Temple,” which is not a favorite of mine, but still a good song.
I am not sure how I feel about the transition from the Revolution to the New Power Generation. I guess the important thing was the constant Prince, but I loved the the Revolution as well. These three songs from Diamonds and Pearls did make the transition a smooth one. I was always a big fan of “Diamonds and Pearls” even if it has spelling within the song.
I always had meant to buy the Prince box set, but I was a broke new worker fresh out of graduate school, so I settled for the two discs of “The Hits/The B-Sides”, which not only had all his big hits (sans “Batdance”), but also his versions of hit songs that he wrote for Sinead O’Connor (“Nothing Compares 2 U”) and Chaka Khan (“I Feel for You”). Of course I also knew about “Manic Monday” being written for the Bangles, but it was only recently that I learned he also wrote “Stand Back” for Stevie Nicks.
Sadly, I lost interest in new music from about the mid 1990s until 2004 or so. However, thanks to my time at WWE, I received a copy of Musicology. I remember when I first got home thinking how odd it was that Prince would cover a Neil Young song. But his version of Cinnamon Girl was all his own, and the album was an incredible return to the world of Prince. I didn’t partake of much of his music after that, but now that he’s passed away, I feel it is time to do just that, giving me an opportunity to keep his musical spirit in my life.
After two autobiographical posts, I thought I would get back to the original spirit of this blog–forcing readers to listen to my ramblings about what I listen to when I walk to get some exercise in. Again, thanks to my iPhone and its more limited storage space, I am not listening to all my songs in alphabetical order. Instead I have been listening to focused playlists (including one I made of my top 100 songs, which I plan to cover in a series of future posts) as well as podcasts. I believe podcasts are one of the extremely undervalued content forms in history. People put so much time and effort into creating unique niche long-form content in a variety of topics and genres. They are great to listen to during walks, commutes, and long car trips. Most people really came to know about podcasts thanks to the runaway success of Serial in late 2014, but the format had been around for years.
(Side note on Serial: Like almost everyone else, season 1 of the show hooked me with its fascinating story of Adnan Syed. You can debate all you want whether he committed the crime, but there is no way he committed the crime in the timeline the prosecution presented–it is a sham that he was convicted based on the presented evidence. I know many people weren’t as happy with season 2 of the show about Bowe Bergdahl. I understand the complaints–there wasn’t the “solving a mystery” element that season one’s story had, although the show tried to make it seem like what happened to Bergdahl would be solved over the course of the season. Once the show abandoned this subtext after the first few episodes of the new season, it got stronger. Also, it would have been almost impossible to recapture the cultural lightening in the bottle of the first season. However, there was a third reason the second season would have never reached the dizzying heights of the premiere season. The Joe Buck effect. If you don’t know Joe Buck, he’s a lead baseball/football announcer for the Fox network, and he has the unique skill to be hated by all fanbases. When he is broadcasting a Red Sox/Yankee series, for example, all of the Red Sox fans (myself included) feel that he is openly rooting against our team and pulling for the Yankees. However, if you ask Yankee fans about Buck and the same games, they too feel he is biased against their squad and is acting as Pravda for the Red Sox. The only team he doesn’t generate this feeling for is the St. Louis Cardinals, because he does subtly root for them–and it’s easy to understand why as his father was a longtime announcer for the team. Anyway, the Bergdahl case is so politically charged that no matter where you fall on the spectrum, you’d feel that the Serial squad was carrying the water against what you felt the case reflected. This is the danger in modern America to covering both sides of a story–each side openly whines that you spend any time giving credence to the other.)
Back to podcasts in general. I love a spectrum of offerings, but my favorites, my week-in-week-out listens tend to clump in two categories: sports and comedy. One of the latter entries is a film-focused offering called How Did This Get Made? On this bi-weekly show, three comedians–Paul Scheer, June Diane Raphael, and Jason Mantzoukas–along with one or two guests spend 60-90 minutes discussing a “so bad it’s good” movie. If you’d like to see a list of the 130+ movies they have covered since late 2010, here’s a list: Wiki for How Did This Get Made. In addition to listing the movies, you can also see who was the guest in case you have a favorite comedian. Does it help if you have seen the film they are discussing? Absolutely. Can you enjoy the podcasts even if you haven’t seen the films? Absolutely. Each member of the cast brings something special to the discussion, but for my money, Jason makes each show. If you’ve ever seen The League, Jason played Rafi on that show–he was also Dennis Feinstein on Parks and Recreation and Detective Adrian Pimento on a recent run of Brookly Nine-Nine episodes. His willingness to criticize others as well as his absolute love of craziness in film shines in almost every episode. The episodes can vary in quality, but if they have a top-notch guest, the shows are almost guaranteed to be hilarious. For a first-timer, I’d recommend 108 Con Air, 109 Face/Off, or any of the Sharknado episodes. They’ve also done each of the last three Fast & Furious movies with Adam Scott, and those are always fun as well.
The interesting thing about this show is that it has gotten me back into caring about things that are so bad they are good. I have been, and always will be, a pop culture maven. When I was younger, I was interested more in the bad things as well as the good, but as I got older, I found it harder and harder to justify spending time watching that category of camp. My twins find it frustrating–they want me to watch films like Mac & Me and Birdemic with them, but I often refuse. Ironically, both of those films have been covered by How Did This Get Made?, so perhaps I should find a bit of time to squeeze them in, scoring quality family time and preping myself for another enjoyable podcast. I’m not sure if I’d be doing it for John and Alice, or Paul, June, and Jason.
I suggested that I may be willing to discuss my recent medical misadventures in more detail if that was what people wanted to hear. Well, the response was overwhelmingly positive–100% of the readers that chimed in expressed interest in hearing more about my recent surgical procedure!
(Truth in advertising department–one person replied and said that they’d be willing to read anything I wrote. So for you that struggle with math, one affirmative out of one response is 100%. I’ll take it, particularly as it was proof that someone read my last blog.)
So, as I mentioned yesterday, I spent the beginning of last week in the hospital for a cardiac ablation. My doctor had recommended it back in January after an echo cardiogram showed that one of my atrium valves had grown in size, which would increase the probability of future arrhythmia episodes. An ablation would attack the problem, bring down that probability, and perhaps eliminate the need for medications. I tried to put it off for some time, particularly as I had a major deadline at work (one we hit although I will not be there to see the fruits of that labor), so it was scheduled for April. I had to check in on Monday when they did a TEE, a procedure in which they stick a camera down your throat to check for any blood clots before the ablation. Luckily you get put out for that as well, but not before you get to gargle some disgusting liquid to numb you first. After I woke up from that procedure, I had an MRI on my heart so they could get a sneak preview of the region for Tuesday’s 8AM surgery.
Checked into my room with nothing to do until the next day. I was fairly confident about the ablation, even though they had to give me the standard “complications can include death” speech. That hit my wife more than it hit me. However, laying on a hospital bed with twelve hours to can lead to the mind wandering into unpleasant briar patches. If only I had something to distract me. TV was not that successful, but thankfully the hospital staff had something in mind to prevent me from dwelling on the upcoming procedure…
If you haven’t been in the hospital lately, congratulations! But I also thought I would mention that you are assigned a nurse and a technician. The latter is mostly responsible for checking your vitals every few hours. On Monday night, my technician checked my blood pressure, pulse, and temperature about 8PM. Everything was normal. An hour later, a second technician came in to tell me he was assisting the technician assigned to my room. He also informed me that he’d be coming back soon to “prep” me for the surgical procedure, and that prep involved shaving my chest (ok) and groin (I knew it was coming, but it is not anything you are truly prepared to have done, particularly by a stranger–unless that’s your thing). After he came back, he helpfully explained that the chest had to be shaved in case they needed to use the defibrillator paddles on my chest. Remember earlier when I said that I wasn’t worried about the procedure? Hearing the term “defibrillator paddles” has a way of spiking fear–every time they are used in a medical television or movie situation, there’s nothing laid back or fun about the application of the paddles. Visualizing someone yelling “CLEAR” as they tried to shock my heart back into performance was concerning to say the least.
Thank God I had the humiliation of being shaved from shoulder to knee to keep me occupied! The one I didn’t get was he also shaved my armpits. That created a bit of razor burn, but not as bad as the razor burn on both sides of my groin area. This led to a “funny for everyone but me” situation. When I was in recovery after the procedure and the nurse there was checking the area of incisions, she noticed the razor burn. She asked me who had shaved me there and expressed anger that he had created the bumps and cuts. That should have been enough, but she proceeded to call over several other nurses and technicians to show them the poor shaving job–or more simply put, to show them my groin. Each made a point of agreeing with her that it was too bad–hopefully referring to just the razor burn and not my genitalia.
That was not the last indignity my groin would suffer. After getting out of the hospital, the area around one of the incisions started to develop a purple and red bruise. I was told this might happen and it was nothing to cause alarm. I was frustrated though that if my groin was going to be this black and blue, I’d have hoped to have a little more fun getting it in that shape.
Hey, I remember this neighborhood! I used to have a blog here! Then I finally found my next job post-WWE, which required relocation to Buffalo. That lasted about a year before I found a better opportunity in Orlando, Florida, working with Ripley Entertainment, home of Ripley’s Believe It or Not! I got to work with some incredible people and learn some truly bizarre information, but after 20 months, I am now looking for my next opportunity.
It’s always scary working without a net, but my wife and I are confident that things will work out the way they are supposed to. Plus the break right now isn’t so bad–I had been super stressed at the position and last week I had a cardiac ablation. There’s probably many of you out there wondering what that is. Hell, I would have been in that camp until early January when a doctor suggested it for me. Basically, a cardiologist sticks catheters into your body, either through your arm, neck, or groin. All men just shuddered at the description of door number three, so of course that’s what I got. the doctor then kills the electrical impulse ability of part of your heart tissue in order to prevent future arrhythmia. There’s risks associated, but the procedure was a success for me. Perhaps I will share more details in a future blog if people want.
A future blog? I am working toward a second relaunch of this blog. I am thinking about altering format, as I have not been listening to my 10000+ songs in alphabetical order any more. It’s not that I’ve stopped walking. In fact, thanks to my Fitbit, I now walk more than 5.5 miles a day. However, I now use my iPhone when I walk and I cannot fit all my songs, so I listen to podcasts more during my extended walks. Perhaps I can talk about those, or about broader pop-culture topics. Maybe I’ll just write about my medical procedures–who wouldn’t want to read that? If my ego is healthy enough to think you’re interested in my extemporaneous thoughts, everything is in play.
I’ve been working out and still listening to my alphabetical listings of songs, but not nearly as much as I should. My posting has fallen off a cliff…if a woman found out she was pregnant the day of my last post, she could be reading this entry holding her newborn child. But it’s a new year, and time for resolutions of improved activity. Both exercising and writing would be excellent choices for promises that I’d ultimately break, but I think I’ll settle for just exercising and writing today and then seeing how tomorrow goes.
January 4, 2014
1.75 miles of treadmill work plus upper arm weight work.
For Christmas, I got my wife the soundtrack to Inside Llewyn Davis and we are just starting to get into it. I think it will ultimately be a successful release, particularly as the movie sees wider release. It is similar to me to an older Coen brother film O Brother, Where Art Thou? While the movie had a great soundtrack, four variations of the same song is a bit of a bother when you are listening to your entire music collection alphabetically. At least two were only instrumental versions. Back to Llewyn Davis; both my wife and I are excited to see the movie–it’s one of two “Oscar bait” movies we’d like to see, with American Hustle being the other. Those are it for theater needs; the rest can wait for Blu-Ray, Netflix, or TV as far as I’m concerned.
There aren’t enough songs that serve as effective job descriptions, but “I Am a Paleontologist” certainly fits the bill. It’s of extra interest to me these days, as my company is releasing two sets of Dinosaur-themed books, so the term is coming up repeatedly in manuscripts these days. They Might Be Giants went with the specificity of position, while Guided by Voices were more general, speaking only of the broad category of Scientist. Every time I get a Guided by Voices song, I try to remember how we added Bee Thousand to our collection, as I think it was a gift to my wife. I don’t have much time to think about it, as all the album’s songs tend to be a bit on the short side. I have no problem remembering how Simon & Garfunkel, who contributed “I Am a Rock” between the two job songs, got into the collection–they are all mine. I was hoping a new generation of fans would come to Paul and Art when the Rock Band video game released the aforementioned song plus “Sounds of Silence” as downloadable content, but I am guessing it didn’t ultimately matter.
After a song by the underrated Mary Chapin Carpenter, I got the first of my two songs from the musical The Book of Mormon. That soundtrack is from the Maggie wing of our musical museum. It’s an interesting path of parenting. When your kids are young, they like and listen to either the music you expose them to or what corporate marketing machines like Disney serve to them. We tried to find music that we liked that also was accessible to youngsters, like the Beatles, Barenaked Ladies, and They Might Be Giants (and this was before TMBG smartly started releasing targeted children’s albums. However, this didn’t stop the occasional Jonas Brothers or Aly & AJ from sneaking through. As the kids get a little older (say middle school and early high school), pop music becomes the must-listen. Again, this is completely understandable, as all their peers are listening to the same radio- and TV- (and now internet-) generated content, and everyone wants to fit in. But for your children, at some point they will start listening to something just because it’s what they like, and not because someone in their family or circle of friends told them to like it. For my youngest, I think musicals got her there.
Strong ending with three great artists, including Pearl Jam, R.E.M., and Pete Townsend. I think “I Am Superman” is a great song to push cardio to the next level of speed or incline, at least for a few minutes. After all, after doing some solid exercise, that’s exactly how I feel.
I can’t believe that I have been completely ignoring this blog recently–what is it, the emotional needs of my family? I have been going to the gym, or exercising at all, less often recently. I’ve had the usual excuses–bad weather, trying to launch a freelance business while continuing to desperately search for a full-time position, on the run from shadowy government organizations–I know, I know, if you had $1 for each person with that troika of problems, you would be swimming in candy.
But as my birthday approaches, I need to get back into the good habits of working out. So last night, after an excellent St. Patrick’s Day meal of corned beef and cabbage (I don’t think I need to tell you that beef is my favorite of the corned dishes, crushing corned chicken, corned lamb, corned corn, with only corned candy coming close), my son and I hit the gym for a little exercise time!
Sunday, March 17th, 2013
3.30 miles on the eliptical machine
I have not picked up any of Alicia Keys’ recent albums (and certainly none since she started adding her branding AK logo to them), but I do enjoy “Songs in a Minor” which I picked up well over a decade ago. Not to get all contemplative on you (although it will happen when one is so close to a birthday), but it kind of blows my mind when I see that someone like Alicia has been releasing albums for more than 10 years–she seems like an impressive new artist to me, as opposed to a season veteran of the industry, which is a far more apt description. The All-American Rejects fall into that category for me as well. I think “what a great new band! I really like that new Move Along album, ignorant to the fact (willfully in all probability) that the album was released eight years ago. In a weird way, the Colbie Callat song “Falling for You” hits me in the opposite direction. I know it’s a newer song, but to me, it sounds like it is the opening theme of a workplace romantic sitcom that aired in the 80’s. I don’t mean that as an insult–I enjoy sitcoms and the 80s.
Speaking of the 80’s (or 1990, to be exact), hearing any of Angelo Badalamenti’s compositions take me back to college when Twin Peaks was on the air. I don’t think fans of today’s serial dramas appreciate the debt dramas of the last decade, like Lost, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, American Horror Story, and more, owe to Twin Peaks. The show was appointment television, particularly that first season, and Badalamenti’s haunting music helped set the show’s tone. It’s certainly jarring to then move to the Barenaked Ladies, so it was nice to have two versions of the song (studio album and greatest hits) to really complete the tonal shift.
My family owns a number of CDs–many came from my collection, some came from my wife, and my kids have added quite a few over the years as well. The rarest category of CDs is the “I have no idea where these came from” offerings, and the Lisa Loeb “Falling in Love” single comes from one of theose–a live CD from Lilith Fair (to be more accurate, disc one of a two-disc live CD collection from Lilith Fair, although to make things even more confusing, we only seem to have the first disc). I’m not sure where we got it, but I do enjoy several of the tracks on the album, as well as studio albums from several of the performers. I think it’s not a confession to admit to enjoying that album as much as it is to admit how much I like the Miami Sound Machine’s “Falling in Love (Uh-Oh)”. I freely admit it is a bit of schmaltzy pop, but I have no problem listening to it (and singing along if no one is around). The Linkin Park song comes from an album that my kids added to the collection. I am not trying to deflect blame–I enjoy some Linkin Park. I just thought you might want to know.
My children are also the Lady Gaga fans, although I have been know to embarrass the kids by singing along to one or two of her catchier numbers. So I may enjoy the music of Lady Gaga, I would take Bowie’s “Fame” over her’s on any day of the week. It’s not a complete wash for her though, as I find her “Fame” far superior to the Irene Cara title song from the movie and TV show (I am not sure if Cara’s version made it into the recently remade movie, I would guess not. More importantly, seeing that if I asked 100 people on the street who sang the title track to the 80’s movie Fame, the over/under on correct guesses would be, what 5, I have to dispute Ms. Cara’s assertion that she is “gonna live forever…”
Fallout Boy was responsible for a great deal of excitement, bitter disappointment, jubilation, bitter disappointment, and finally relief in our house over the last month or so. Please allow me to explain. My oldest daughter absolutely loves Fallout Boy and was so excited to learn than not only were they releasing a new album, they planned to tour to support the album, with several shows planned for cities in our area. The excitement turned sour when she could not get tickets as all of the shows would sell out within a minute of the tickets going on sale. Luckily for her, it was eventually announced that Fall Out Boy would be headlining a festival in New Jersey and she, her brother, and a friend were all able to get tickets. This led to my bitter disappointment as I thought I would be driving them to an all-day concert at least an hour south of New York city, and would have to kill time down there in order to avoid two round trips. However, they are riding with someone else, so the relief was mine–I hope they enjoy the show.
The last song comes from the Vaccines debut album. I believe I’ve pumped up the group in the past, but if I haven’t let me recommend them here. They’ve got a great and raw garage band sound, and I am looking forward to more from the group in the future.