Monthly Archives: September 2008

Music Monday: Discovering New Music

I’ve been really bored with my music lately.  A lot of my library is old and dated and I honestly only listen to about 1/3 of it.  But even my favorite third is getting kinda old.  Updating my iPod really made me think about how hard it is for me to “discover” music on my own.  I really need other people (and-to a lesser extent–the Internet) to introduce me to new bands.  My musical tastes have mostly been shaped by:

  • Family– There’s no way I’d have such an affinity for old school country music if it wasn’t for my family.  I grew up on Don Williams, Kenny Rogers, Emmylou Harris, Ricky Skaggs, Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton, Merle Haggard and, yes– The Oak Ridge Boys.  My mom also liked Air Supply and James Taylor and The Commodores, so I have a bit of a soft spot for these artists as well. 
    My biggest influence, however, is my brother.  Growing up, he’d “discover” some new band and force me to listen to it.   His latest musical obsession was always thrust upon me until it became my latest musical obsession.  It didn’t always work out that way (I’ll never quite get Pink Floyd, for example) but my brother introduced me to some of my very favorite artists including Black Sabbath, Green Day, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, John Prine, They Might Be Giants, and The Who as well as recent additions Cross Canadian Ragweed, Old Crow Medicine Show, Todd Snider, and Backyard Tire Fire. (It’s also the reason I still know all the words to Weird Al Yankovic‘s Fat album, but we won’t go there.)
       

  • Friends–  A quick glance through my iTunes reveals a number of different genres of music, and I can pinpoint with a great deal of accuracy who I was hanging out with or dating at the time.   There’s Nirvana and Dr. Dre from high school, the Lilith Fair-esq girl power from my early college days (Jewel, Sarah McLachlan,  Tori Amos, Tracy Chapman), the “hippie” music from a guy I dated in college (Widespread Panic, Phish, Dave Matthews Band), college rock favorites from when I worked at the campus radio station (Stroke 9, Ani DiFranco), a bunch of blues and heavy metal from a former boyfriend (Eric Clapton’s From the Cradle is an amazing album of blues covers and Zakk Wylde’s Book of Shadows is one of the deepest heavy metal records I’ve ever heard), some R&B (R.Kelly, Brian McKnight) and a TON of *really cheesy shit* I like to listen to with my girlfriends.  
     
  • The Internet– To be honest, I don’t listen to the radio much.  And I stopped watching MTV when they stopped showing videos, so I’m usually a bit behind when it comes to new music.  I rely mostly on iTunes and mySpace to tell me what’s “hot” as far as Top 40/Pop music is concerned (yeah, I like it… and I’m not ashamed to admit it!).  But when I’m looking for something out of the ordinary it’s a bit harder. I might hear a band on someone’s mySpace page and listen to their other tracks, or I might read about a band on a blog and check them out.
    Lately, I’ve been listening to the Pop Candy podcasts for new music.  They’re usually about 20 minutes long, which just happens to be the length of my commute.  Although I’ve found some great artists (Hays CarllOkkervil River, The Whigs), some of Whitney’s suggestions are a little too “modern rock” for me.  That is, they sound like bad rip offs of The Beatles/The Rolling Stones/The Who.  And all the “new” punk music sounds like a watered-down version of the Sex Pistols.

So, how do you  discover new music?  And who are some bands I should check out?  I’m really in need of an iPod overhaul.

Couch to 5K

I realized that I haven’t really written about my running program.  I’m doing the Couch to 5K program from coolrunning.com.  And apparently so is everyone else!  I heard about the program from my friend Kelly.  Since then, I’ve learned that Hannah is doing it and so are a couple other friends.  

I really like the structure of the program. It’s really straight-forward and easy-to-follow.  It’s 3 days/week for nine weeks.  There’s a specified workout for each day and it gets progressively harder as you move along.  They encourage you to complete each workout in order, even if you think you’re strong enough to “skip ahead.” I

I just finished day 2 of week 3 (my running weeks and my calendar weeks aren’t in sync due to some slacking on my part.)  This workout consisted of:

  • Jog for 90 seconds/walk for 90 seconds
  • Jog for 3 minutes/walk for 3 minutes

As you can see, the longest run is 3 minutes long.  And I can run for longer than 3 minutes, but today’s workout was harder than usual.  

First of all, I was jogging outside.  When I’m doing the Couch to 5K runs, I usually do them on a treadmill so I can keep track of my time.  During the first few weeks there are a lot of walk/run/walk/run patterns, so I just didn’t trust myself to be able to keep up with them outside. Plus–believe it or not– I think I run too fast outside.  I run too fast to begin with and then wear myself out near the end. 

Hannah wrote about these podcasts that were specifically designed to go along with the program.  They are free and it was a nice day, so I decided to hit the streets instead of the gym.  I liked the podcast.  The trainer guy was helpful, but not annoying.  The music was okay. It was upbeat and had a good rhythm, but was a little too techno-y for my taste.  It reminded me of the canned music they use for aerobics classes.  Maybe next week’s will be better.

I just REALLY missed the digital readout on the treadmill. C25K is based on interval training and when I’m at the gym, I keep my eye on the time so that I know how much I have left to do.  Obviously, this isn’t going to help when I have 20 or 25 minutes to run, but there’s just something about knowing I only have 2 minutes… now 1 minute… now 30 seconds left that keeps me going.  With the podcasts, he tells you when to switch from running to walking, and he’ll occasionally pipe in that you’re “halfway through” the run, but there’s no way to know exactly how much more time is left. 

So, for all you runners out there– I need some tips.  

  • How do you make it through long runs without getting bored or fixating on the amount of time left?
  • Do you focus on something else (form, music, environment) or just let your mind wander?  
  • What are the benefits to running outside instead of at the gym?  
  • How can I get myself to stay on-pace and not run too fast?
  • Any suggestions for good running music?
I’m planning on doing a couple more podcast workouts before completely forming my opinion. If nothing else, it was nice to get outside and run for a change!

Google Me

Last night I went out with some friends.  On our way back to the car, they spotted some people they knew so we stopped and talked for a while.

It was well after last call and I wasn’t really interested, so I kinda stood off to the side.  Naturally, some guy noticed this and decided it was a good time to talk to me.  I told him that I firmly believe that nothing good happens after midnight, but he wasn’t budging.

He told me he was a marketing professor at a local university.  I’m not inclined to believe anyone I meet outside a bar at 2 a.m. so I told him that I was also in marketing and did my best to drop all the buzzwords I could think of. His only response was: “Wow… you just got all professional and stuff” and said that maybe I could come talk to his class next semester.  Okay, whatever.  I still don’t believe him, but what the hell–it’s kinda fun to play along.   I think he could tell I was skeptical so he told me his full name and said:

“Google Me”

Not “Here’s my card”  or “Can I have your number?”  but “Google me.”   Which, of course, I did.  If I’d had an iPhone, I would’ve done it right there, but I had to wait until I got home.   And, believe it or not… he wasn’t lying.  He really is a visiting professor at the local university. He also got my friend’s number before he started talking to me, so he’s not Future Mr. Carich potential, but it made me think about how technology has changed the way we meet and interact with people*

For example:

  • I can’t tell you the last time I actually gave someone my number.  Long gone are the days of scouring the bar for a sharpie and a random piece of paper to give someone your digits.  Now you just put the person’s number in your phone.  Or, better yet, you call them from your phone so that you have their number AND they have yours.
     
  • Texting has introduced a whole new layer to the flirting/calling/dating continuum.  It used to be that if a guy liked you, he’d call the next day (or in 2 days or whatever that dumb rule is.) Now, it’s likely you’ll get a text first.  Texts are a LOT less anxiety-producing than phone calls.  Yeah, it’s best if you can come up with something witty and charming to say in 45 characters or less, but you don’t have to deal with awkward silences, or coming up with something to say.  You can also have extended back-and-forth conversations without having to drop everything else you’re doing.  
    Although texting is less scary than a phone call, it’s also less of a commitment.  You miss a lot of the nuances of someone’s voice when you’re texting. Plus it feels more casual, which makes it even more exciting once you move to actual calls.   As much as I dislike talking on the phone, there’s nothing quite like that first all-night phone conversation where you learn all kinds of tidbits about the person you’re interested in.
  • Technology has also made it easier to do some “research” on people before you decide to date them. In addition to the basic googling, you can check out someone’s facebook and mySpace pages. Where I live, you can also check out their criminal history and make sure they’re not a sex offender or a deadbeat dad (or mom–there are deadbeat moms.)
It’s just interesting to see how technology changes our daily lives without us even realizing it.  I’ve only had text messaging on my phone for a little over a year now and I can’t imagine not having it.  Technology has definitely made the social  world more transparent, but hopefully it’s not stripping away the “good” stuff!
————–
* I’m not even going to touch the subject of online dating. I realize it’s 2008, but the idea of “meeting” someone online still freaks me out.  I’m old-fashioned like that.

 

Foto Friday: Broken Foot Edition

I was looking through old pictures to find photos of my college buddies for this week’s Website Wednesday when I came across this photo.  Although the quality of the photograph is poor, it’s a perfect choice for Foto Friday due to the story that surrounds it.

It was Spring Break 2000 in Panama City, Florida. Some girlfriends and I rented a beach house that technically not supposed to be rented out to students. Oops!

On our second-to-last night there, we went to a dance club. I was wearing a short denim skirt, a sleeveless shirt and some wedge sandals I had borrowed from Stephanie (seen here lounging in the background). A bnunch of us were dancing on stage and I decided I’d had enough. I grabbed my friend’s hand and as I was stepping down, my shoe caught on the stage and I fell.

It was like a scene from a movie—I fell in slow motion, the music stopped and *everyone* was staring. I grabbed my ankle (yes, while wearing a skirt) and laid there for a minute. I got up, sat down for a while and did a couple shots. My ankle hurt, but I was able to put weight on it, so I continued dancing the rest of the night.

We got back to the beach house and went to bed. I woke up in the middle of the night to my ankle throbbing with pain. I needed to use the bathroom and had to crawl down the hall Lieutenant Dan-style. The next morning, my friends took me to the local hospital where I discovered that, yes– my foot was broken.

I spent the rest of my vacation laying on the couch with my foot up (as seen here) or in a modified lawn chair sunk into the sand on the beach.

The worst part, however, was the 14-hour car ride home, laying in the backseat with my foot up.  I’m sure it was worse for my friends, though, who had to listen to me complain of boredom the whole time!

Mmmm… Mmmm… Good!

I don’t really write much about politics here.  It’s not that I’m not interested in politcs (I am!) or because I don’t have an opinion (I do!), but I just don’t think I’m going to change anyone’s mind. 

Having said that, though, I really liked this op-ed (is that the correct term on TV?) from Campbell Brown.  Say what you want about the “liberal media,” but this made a lot of sense to me:

 

Musical Xanax

I had a crappy day yesterday.  Nothing really bad happened, it just didn’t seem like things were going my way.  Instead of laying on the couch eating bon-bons and watching Dancing with the Stars, I decided to channel my negativity and do something productive– I headed to the gym to take out my anger on the treadmill. 

When I’m in this kind of mood I need hard, fast, loud music that gets me fired up. The kind of music that makes me want to jump around, scream at the top of my lungs and, as Limp Bizkit might say–Break Shit.

Luckily, I have a playlist on my iPod for such occasions.  I call it Musical Xanax because it gets my heart pumping, rids me of my anger and takes away all traces of anxiety and stress.  Songs on this list generally fall into one or more of these categories:

  • Upbeat, fast tempo, preferably with a strong, pounding baseline or prominent guitar hook
  • Singers who have raspy, pain-filled screaming voices
  • Angry, vengeful subject matter
  • Empowering lyrics

The following songs are guaranteed to put me in a better mood, or at least ensure a good workout! Warning: Some of these lyrics contain adult language. If you’re offended by such things, stop reading now.

“Lose Yourself,” Eminem
Success is my only muthafuckin option
Failure’s not

“Violet,” Hole
When they get what they want
They never want it again
Go on, take everything
Take everything
I want you to

“Fighter,” Christina Aguilera
But in the end, you’ll see
You.Won’t. Stop. Me.
I am a fighter, I ain’t gonna stop
There is no turnin’ back
I’ve had enough

“Best of You,” Foo Fighters
Has someone taken the bait?
It’s real, the pain you feel
The life, the love, you’ve got to heal
The hope,  the start, the broken hearts
You trust, you must, confess
Is someone getting the best, the best, the best, the best of you?

“U and Ur Hand”, Pink
I’m not here for your entertainment
You don’t really wanna mess with me tonight

“Inside Out,” Eve 6
Wanna put my tender heart in a blender
Watch it spin round to a beautiful oblivion
Rendezvous
Then I’m through with you

“Girlfriend,” Avril Lavigne
I think you know, I’m damn precious
And hell yeah, I’m the motherfuckin princess

“Leaving Tennessee,” Cross Canadian Ragweed
Fuck you. And fuck Nashville
Fuck everyone but me
You’ll be gone, come mornin’
Fuck you. And Fuck Nashville
I’m leavin’ Tennessee.

“Trigger Happy Jack,” Poe
Can’t talk to a psycho like a normal human being

“In the Middle,” Jimmy Eat World
Live Right now/Just be yourself
It doesn’t matter if it’s good enough
For someone else

Bodies, Drowning Pool
1…Nothin wrong with me
2… nothin wrong with me
3… nothin wrong with me
4… nothin wrong with me
1… somethin’s got to give
2… somethin’s got to give
3… somethin’s got to give
4… somethin’s got to give
NOOOOOWWWWWWW!

Angels, Sarah McLachlan (great stretching song)
There’s always some reason
To feel not good enough
And it’s hard at the end of the day

Honorable mention:  None of Your Business, Salt N Peppa; Crazy Bitch, Buckcherry; Fake It, Seether; Somebody to Shove, Soul Asylum; Little Black Backpack, Stroke 9; Through The Never, Metallica; More Human than Human, White Zombie; Before He Cheats, Carrie Underwood; Stronger, Kanye West; She Hates Me, Puddle of Mudd; Breed, Nirvana; Respect, Aretha Franklin; Can’t Nobody Hold me Down, Puff Daddy f/Mace

Oh well, whatever.Nevermind.

Today marks the 17th anniversary of the release of Nevermind, the breakthrough album from Nirvana.  This record marks my first foray into all-out fandom.  I wrote about my first experience with “Smells Like Teen Spirit” in an earlier blog post:

 

The first time I heard this song, I was hooked.  I was in 7th grade and listening to ZRock late at night.  Most of the time they played hard rock music, but after about 10 p.m. they played “weird” stuff.  Stuff with a completely different sound. 

I remember writing down the name of this song and buying the single the next day.   I’d then listen to it on my Discman (remember those?) all night until I fell asleep.  I never really knew what they were saying or what the words meant, but there was something about the raw emotion on that record that really resonates with me.

Although the musical landscape has changed significanly in the last 17 years, there’s no denying that Nevermind made a lasting impact.  I still listen to Nirvana.  And I hear it on the radio–all the time!   There are very few things–before or since–that elicit quite the response I get from the opening bars of this album. Nevermind changed music.  And it changed me. And I’m listening to it all day today. 

Where the hell are my Doc Martens?