Category Archives: Music


The songs we sing in the shower tell us far more about ourselves than those we discuss in public. For example, the guy at the tattoo shop who is blasting Slayer? I can almost guarantee you that he knows all the words to The Spice Girls’ “Wannabe.” Your next-door neighbor who will not stop with the Nine Inch Nails at all hours of the night? That guy has at least one, if not two Enya CDs. I know a guy who professes to be an opera lover and gets very snooty about other genres of music, but he knows all the words to “Miracles” from Insane Clown Posse. I have Phish stickers on my car, but am I belting out Corey Hart’s “Never Surrender” when it comes on the radio? You bet I am.

I used to believe very strongly in the idea of a “guilty pleasure.” According to Wikipedia, a guilty pleasure is “something, such as a film, a television program, or a piece of music that one enjoys despite feeling that it is not generally held in high regard.” The important part of that definition is the word “feeling.” If you feel something isn’t worthy of your time, yet you devote time to it anyway, that’s what makes it a guilty pleasure. A guilty pleasure song is the aural equivalent of a Hot Pocket. You know it’s terrible, but you’re doing it anyway, and it is delicious.

A two-second Google search for “guilty pleasure music” turned up a slew of results, from a Spotify playlist courtesy of The Quietus to one made up of “summer songs” from Entertainment Weekly (which, one could argue, is a guilty pleasure in and of itself).

I’ve changed my mind, however, about the “guilty” part of guilty pleasures. I’m not sure when I made that shift from sheepishly mumbling along to Haddaway’s “What Is Love” into the full-tilt car-boogie dance routine I do now, but I just don’t care what people think anymore. I’m enthusiastic in my consumption of popular culture and you should be, too!

My favorite [former] “guilty pleasure” song of all time is “Never Gonna Give You Up” by Rick Astley. I am completely sincere about my love for this song, ask anyone. It’s a fun, dance-y pop song that is all about how ol’ Rick is going to be the Best! Boyfriend! Ever! He’s never gonna give you up, let you down, run around or desert you! Lyrics aside, the song itself is pure 80s bubblegum fluff. From the electronic drums to the smooth synth, this song tells you right up front that we are going to dance! Awkwardly!

There is a reason why this became one of the greatest memes on the internet. It’s not that it’s the best song ever written (that’s a debate for another day), it’s because this is a goofy, silly, song that sounds just as goofy and silly as the lyrics would lead you to believe. Back when RickRolling was all the rage, people would click, see the video pop up, and groan. But a sizeable number of folks would give it a listen, and maybe those folks found themselves humming it off and on throughout the rest of the day. Those people are my people.

That’s how, sometimes, a guilty pleasure becomes a genuine pleasure. Everyone has one, and the ones who say they don’t are either lying, trying to sleep with you, or both. I’ve told you mine, what’s yours?


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Remembering Lou

When a famous person dies, people mourn. It can seem strange, to mourn someone you only know through their art or music or words, but it’s natural, I think. The music and art and books we love are what help shape us as people, and it starts almost immediately after birth because the best kind of parents understand that their children are blank slates and you can almost make them do anything you want.

Any of you who are acquainted with me or my brother know that we can be deeply strange individuals. It’s the kind of weirdness that’s not born – it’s made, and it’s directly attributable to the various family road trips we took as children.

In the early 80s, we didn’t have minivans (thank God) or in-car “entertainment” systems. We had the radio (and hoo boy, when we upgraded to a tape deck in the car, my mom was pretty sure her life was complete), and each other and what we could spot out the windows as we drove down the US Routes of the country (my dad hated interstates and we avoided them as much as possible).

I don’t remember which trip, exactly. It could have been any or all of them. But Wee Andy and I were in the backseat of my mom’s enormous green 1977 Thunderbird. This car was huge. AND GREEN. It was like the Hulk in automobile form. Ma had typed up and printed out lyrics to a few of her favorite songs and we were forced asked to sing along. Before you ask, let me tell you that no, you probably won’t be allowed to sing Neil Young’s “Powderfinger” for the 2nd grade talent show. Apparently the sheet music for piano for this song is not readily available to your average elementary-school music teacher.


One of those songs was Lou Reed’s “Walk On the Wild Side.” Perfectly appropriate for your 8- and 5-year-old children to sing along with, yes? Well, of course. Andy and I sang backup, obviously, because while it’s perfectly fine to have your grade-school children sing the “colored girls'” part, they drew the line at having us sing about fellatio.

See? We did have limits!

All of this is to explain why I’m feeling sad that Lou Reed died. His work with the Velvet Underground and his subsequent solo albums were never really in my regular listening rotation, but I appreciate his music for the art that it so obviously is. He was, by almost all measures, a fucking genius. And he earned the the right to the arrogance that is part of his legendary persona.

In his book “Lipstick Traces,” Greil Marcus posits that the Sex Pistols changed the world. For a long time, I fully agreed with that view because the Sex Pistols were like nothing that came before and anyone who tried to emulate what they did failed miserably. Over the years, however, I’ve modified that agreement to include Lou Reed. The Sex Pistols would not, could not have existed without Lou and the Velvet Underground, shining a dark lantern over the landscape and not caring if you followed or not.

That [alleged] Brian Eno mis-quote is making the rounds at the moment, and it goes a little something like this: “The Velvet Underground only sold 10,000 copies (or 5,000 or 30,000 depending on the source of this mis-quote), but everyone who bought one went out and started a band.” Whether or not Brian Eno actually said that (sources are fuzzy, I did try to look it up), the gist of it is absolutely true. As I said to a friend yesterday: Without the Velvet Underground, there would be no punk rock. And without punk rock, there would be no Me.

A few years ago, I was in NYC, on my way to a show. I forget which show, but I know I was in the West Village and I was in a hurry because the train was slow and I was about to be late. Because of this, I tripped over one of those infernal little iron fences they put around the trees that jut out of the sidewalk, and fell ass-over-teakettle right there in front of the world. This happens a lot. This particular time, I was trying to right myself and a hand appeared in my vision. I took it, hauled myself up, and said “Hey, thanks.”

To Lou Reed. Only in New York, right?

He said, “Watch where you’re going.”

I will.

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Filed under Music, Other People

A conversation

[In the car, a Rush song comes on the radio.]

Me: What the hell is this song?  It's definitely early Rush. First album.

[there is cowbell]

Him: No, I think this is on Moving Pictures.

Me: No way. This is first album stuff, right here. Neil Peart would never hit a cowbell like that.  And this song doesn't reference elves in any way at all.

Him: No, it's not that early.

Me: I'm going to Shazam that shit.

[I Shazam that shit]

Me: HA! FIRST ALBUM.  Who's awesome?  I'M AWESOME.  And why? Because I know as much about Rush as you do, MAYBE MORE.   

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Five Best on Friday

I love to make lists.  I even have a list of things I need to make lists for.

With that in mind, I'd like to present to you the Five Best on Friday. I would like for this to be a regular feature here on the blogthing but we all know how those kinds of intentions work out in real life (hint: they don't).

We'll see.

There has been a lot of discussion amongst my friends about this particular topic, so I'm going to give you the list and we can argue about it later if you want.

Five Best Michael Jackson Songs

1. Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'

2. PYT

3. Thriller

4. Man In The Mirror

5. Rock With You


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In Ink

2012 is going to be a year of change for me. So it seemed fitting that I should start the year making a major change to my body. I got a tattoo.

While I was getting it, Lou (my tattoo guy) and I were chatting and I was telling him about some of my adventures and he expressed surprise that I’d made it to age 36 without one. I can’t even settle down to a hair color for more than a month, how the hell am I supposed to deal with permanent ink on my body?

I’m a big fan of change. I like the idea that nothing is permanent, everything can be altered in some way. The outcome is never set in stone. So, no. No tattoos. I can’t even imagine that kind of shit my 18-year-old self would have chosen. And I know more than one person who got tattoos back then and I can’t imagine they love the Tasmanian Devil nearly as much now as they did then.

So I waited. I gave it a lot of thought, but could never really settle on something that I wanted to be a part of me, forever (or at least until I get old and it starts to meld into itself and become a shapeless black thingy). The idea actually came to me when I was pregnant with Jillian. I had only just discovered Editors and was listening to them more or less non-stop (some things maybe ARE permanent!) and during a particularly tough time, one of their songs spoke to me in a really profound way.

Fast-forward a few years, and my favorite band is putting out a boxed set. The first 200 people to order it get lyrics of their choice hand-written for them by the singer. I spent a good four hours making “squeeeee” noises and dancing around like a landed trout when I found out I was one of those 200 people (not to mention the way I acted once I actually received them), and when I got them in the mail, my choice was made.

Still, I sat on it for almost a year. I wanted to be sure. Then, last week, I finally made the appointment to have it done. And… it’s done.

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Filed under Me Me Me, Music

Giving Thanks – Day 7

Day 7, and I am grateful for music.

Some people go to church and pray to a deity. I turn on the radio and sing. I suppose I could go on and on about it, but there’s not much more to say, really. Music is my life, in more ways than one, and although I am getting increasingly deaf, I just turn it up to 11.

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It’s not U2, it’s me.

The Boy Behind the U2 cover art

I saw this pop up on Yahoo news this morning and thought it was fitting for my state of mind. You see, I have broken up with my once-favorite band, and it’s a weird feeling for me. Some might laugh, but where others turn to God, I turn to music. And for the longest time, it was U2. It was always U2.

I especially love this song, since it came out in a time of great upheaval in my life and it was something to cling to when there wasn’t much else.

We had to break up, though, because I fell in love with someone else.

I found this band when I was pregnant. I had a fairly decent job that let me listen to music, and that was back in the days when my satellite radio would let me listen online for free, and that’s when I found Editors.

And now, well. Things are a little bit obsessive, you see.

I think it’s a matter of access, really. U2 is this big behemoth of a thing and Editors… well, Tom Smith once sweated on me from the stage, and it’s pretty safe to say that I will probably never be within 50 feet of Bono, ever. Point to Editors. Add to that the fact that Editors released a boxed set early this year and a certain handful of faithful fans got their names immortalized in the liner notes AND a smaller percentage of that group got hand-written lyrics of their choice from Tom. Advantage: Editors.

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Happy Dance!

I love music, and lots of it. I also suffer from monomania, and will happily listen to the same CD or band over and over and over and over and over and over and over until even the dog is sick of it.

When I was pregnant with Jillian, I had that excellent job with horrible people and listened to satellite radio through my computer for 9 hours every day. I finally got sick of the 80’s alternative station and turned on the what’s-new-in-alt-rock station and thus discovered Editors. It was one of those days, when I was trying not to strangle the co-workers, and “Bullets” came on. The line “if something has to change, then it always does” hit me smack in the brain and wouldn’t let go.

Since then, I have fallen so in love with this band, I can’t even tell you. I got to see them twice last year when they were on tour and I wish so much I could have just dropped my whole life and gone to every show. I love love love love this band.

A few weeks ago, they announced that they’re releasing a boxed set and whatnot, and the first 200 people to pre-order would get a line of lyrics hand-written by Tom, the singer. I am one of those lucky 200 and after a couple of email crap-outs, I got the confirmation today that they’ve received my lyrics request and I AM SO HAPPY I MIGHT JUST BARF.

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Can someone explain The White Stripes to me?

I was having a conversation with someone whose music tastes I generally agree with, and he was flabbergasted that I didn’t LOOOOOOOVE The White Stripes. I’m constantly shocked at the knowledge that he has no room in his life for U2, but we get along just fine despite his huge and glaring personality flaw.

I get this a lot, though. “You don’t like Such-and-Such band? WHY NOOOOOOTTTT????”

“Erm, because I just… don’t?”

I’ve listened to quite a bit of The White Stripes. I am given to understand that they are pushers of boundaries, etc, but I just don’t enjoy their music at all. So someone needs to explain them to me in 500 words or less.

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Things I’ve been doing

1. Listening to Thriller. I revisited it as a tribute to Michael Jackson and I am amazed at how well it holds up. Amazed. It’s excellent music for cleaning the house, too.

2. Not writing blog posts (duh). I have come to the realization that although my life isn’t boring to live, once I start writing stuff down… whoa. BORING. It’s boring as hell to write about, so I can only imagine it is at least twice as boring to read about. However…

3. Gardening! Well, not so much gardening as much as ‘sticking seeds in the ground to see what happens.’ The lettuce was pulled out weeks ago because it bolted a lot faster than I expected it too. Oh well. The scallions are just hanging on, so we’re about at the end of that. I planted peppers, which are… slackers. I’m not sure how well they’re going to do. But the tomatoes… oh the tomatoes. We’re going to have a lot. 38 plants and they’re all THRIVING. I also have cucumbers. I’ve never grown them, so I am not familiar with how they grow but… I have a few that are as big around as my daughter’s entire body but they’re only about 4 inches long. Weird.

4. Beer. Our first batch of homebrew came out AMAZING. So the second batch was brewed last Thursday and we’re hoping our beginner’s luck holds out for that. We have decided that we need a boiler for outside though, because the house was stinky for four entire days. This will also help when the tomatoes arrive, because the thought of canning tomatoes in my sweat lodge of a kitchen makes me want to cry.

5. Potty-training. Jillian is getting the hang of peeing, and the pooping is coming along as well. I can’t get her to dress/undress herself yet – she is content to let me do it. Hmm. Still, not having to change diapers except for naptime/bedtime is a wonderful thing.

6. Knitting. I’m working on Preppy Sock #2, which is almost done. I turned the heel the other day and now it’s just a matter of getting to the end. I started this pair way back in March, so it’s about time. Then I can move on to something else, like…. more socks. Actually, I’m going to knit a new sweater for Jillian who refuses to stop growing and has outgrown the one I made for her two years ago.

7. Party planning. Jillian’s 3rd birthday is at the end of this month. I am gobsmacked that she’s already three! In one sense, it feels like she just got here, but in another, it’s getting difficult to remember what life was like without her. She’s talking (constantly) and growing (constantly) and learning stuff and just being delightful.

8. Working out. Because $40/hour for a personal trainer is a bit expensive, we have acquired a lot of the tools I was using at the gym and can work out at home. We have BodyBars, medicine balls, resistance bands, and sometime in the next week or so, we’ll have dumbbells. I also have a treadmill and a stability ball, so there is no excuse at all, ever, for me to not be working out. I worked out in the backyard with Freddie on Saturday and I’m pleased to note that 2 days later, he is still hurting a bit. Story of my life – I know what I need to do… I just need to do it. I’m trying to build up my running stamina and I’m planning to start working with a swim coach…. and Freddie wants to buy me a bike because he thinks I’m going to be ready for a triathlon next year. Errrrrr….. I’m not so sure about that. There is one at Cedar Point that I would LOVE to go to, but I was thinking more along the lines of Freddie doing it. Turns out he thinks I should do it. I suppose it would be fitting. There are few places on Earth that I love the way I love Cedar Point.

9. Maybe getting a dog. We have been talking about getting a dog for awhile now, and we finally found a few that we like on Petfinder. The application process is interesting – it’s no wonder people just go out and buy dogs because it seems like there are a lot of hoops to jump through to get one through a rescue. It should be the other way around, i think. Still, we’ll see. The dog we’re interested in is a Border Collie/Whippet mix, which translates into HIGH ENERGY OMG! But I have a three-year-old, so they will match up well.

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Filed under Garden Adventures, Jillian, Knitting, Me Me Me, Music, Stuff