Category Archives: music

Oak Ridge Boys: insta review

I just got home from the Oak Ridge Boys concert and I’m doing an insta-review in order to hit the high points.

A couple of things to keep in mind:

a) I went with my family– my mom, aunt, uncle, grandma, and my grandma’s “boyfriend” (or whatever you call it when the “boy” hasn’t been a boy for a good 65-70 years!)

b) The Oak Ridge Boys was my very first concert ever.  And a *huge* part of my childhood memories, especially at Christmas time (maybe I’ll look up old posts that reference this later.  Not now. )

Okay, so first of all, the show was split into two parts:  the “Greatest Hits” and the “Christmas Show.”    The first part opened with some dude (maybe a tour manager?) announcing this fact and then hawking CDs.  Hmmm…

They opened with a song *about them* written by Shooter Jennings.   Again, hmmm….

By this point, I was CRACKING up at their clothing.  The guy with the really deep voice looked like he was auditioning for American Idol–in skinny jeans, velvet (?) jacket, I-wear-my-sunglasses-at-night.   Definitely the “hippest” of the group.  Dude even had a flavor savor!

The rest of them looked like your average group of middle-aged Harley dudes.  Except they didn’t really match.  And one guy was wearing what appeared to be black tapered SLACKS.   Weird.   Anyway, it was amusing.


It goes without saying that the ORB cater to a decidedly older clientel.   In fact, it took a while to find *anyone* who was anywhere near my age bracket.  And it was FUNNY to watch the crowd participate– by clapping, singing along, waving back to Santa, taking videos on their cell phones.    HILARIOUS!    There was a superfan seated in front of us.  She had a SIGNED sweatshirt from “The Boys” and loved every minute of the show.


Remember: this is the stuff I grew up on.  We played the Oak Ridge Boys Christmas CD every.single.year while putting up the Christmas tree, baking cookies, opening gifts, etc.  It’s pretty much a family tradition.    They played quite a few of their famous songs during the “greatest hits” portion….but no Bobbie Sue, which greatly disappointed me.   They played some songs off their new album, which they should do…but, again, I wanted to hear Bobbie Sue!

Then they had intermission (weird) and on to the Christmas portion, which was decidedly longer.  They played *some* of their songs off the Christmas CD and did some standbys (Jingle Bells, The Christmas Song, etc.) but they did a LOT of songs that were unfamiliar to me… and a lot of slow songs.  In a row.  At the end.   My grandma’s 80 year old boyfriends was faring better than me in the I-can’t-fall-asleep-at-a-concert department.


The cheese factor was severely high tonight– they did the requisite tributes to family, kids, military, etc.   A lot of heartstring pulling, but people were genuinely enjoying themselves.   And, like I said….this music is so engrained in my childhood that I couldn’t help having my own heartstrings pulled a time or two.  Even if I did bust out laughing during Elvira.  I mean, SERIOUSLY, how that song ever got popular is beyond me.

As much as I’d like to be all cynical about it, the show definitely helped get me in the Christmas spirit, though…  for that, it was a success!

Top 10 Albums

Whitney Matheson of USA Today’s Pop Candy blog asked this question of her readers:  “”What are 10 CDs you can’t live without?”

As I started making my list, I quickly realized that most of them are older– CDS from high school or college.  Sadly, this is a direct result of digital music. I simply don’t listen to full  albums any more!  I also decided I would need to set some parameters for myself if I was going to whittle my list down to a paltry 10 albums.

  • No Greatest Hits or Boxed sets.  That’s too easy*.
  • Titles have to be entire albums I can’t live without.  The kind I can listen to from start to finish, not just those I listen to for a couple of songs and skip the rest.
  • I couldn’t censor my list to make myself look cool

After much deliberation, here it is.  It’s imperfect (and in no particular order), but 10 is an awfully small number:

Jewel, Pieces of You
Sing-a-long songs at it’s best.  Contains “Sensitive,” the song I’d like to have as my theme song (also a great post on PopCandy)

Metallica, Metallica
From the very first note to the last guitar riff, this album is forever burned in my memory.  Great for letting off steam.

The Oak Ridge Boys Christmas
Cheesy?  Yes.  Overly sentimental?  Absolutely.  But completely necessary.  What else am I going to listen to at Christmas time?

REM, Automatic for the People
It’s funny because I’m not even sure this is my *favorite* REM album.  But I could listen to it every day and not get sick of it.
Perfect for contemplation.  And sleeping (that’s not meant to be an insult).

Tom Petty, Wildflowers
This is the one that made me institute the “No Greatest Hits” rule.   I thought about choosing TP and the HBs  Greatest Hits, but–instead– went with this solo album from the T. man himself.   Great lyrics. Great melodies.  Perfect for chilling out and singing along in the car (I assume they have cars in this fictional place I’m going with only 10 albums!)

Nirvana, Unplugged in New York
You expected Nevermind, didn’t you?  I thought about it.  But Unplugged
has much more variety.  And I like the stripped-down production better on this.  I certainly couldn’t live without Nirvana, right?

Juno Soundtrack
This is the only recent album on my list.  It might be the last full album I bought (albeit in digital format).  Again, the variety keeps me coming back and there’s plenty of Kimya Dawson to keep me smiling.

Sheryl Crow, The Globe Sessions
Another great sing-along CD.  Certainly not her most popular album, but I find myself listening to it all the time.  Sheryl doesn’t get enough credit for her clever songwriting.

Eric Clapton, From the Cradle
This is Eric Clapton’s compilations of blues covers and it’s how I fell in love with blues guitar.   This is by far the sexiest album I own.  I’ll take Clapton over Barry White or Marvin Gaye any

Zakk Wylde, Book of Shadows
This is one of those albums I *never* would’ve listened to if it wasn’t for someone else making me.  I drove to Yellowstone and back listening to this CD.  And I still can’t get enough of it.  Good for those moodier days!

Looking over this list, I can’t say that these are my absolute favorite artists, or even that this accurately represents my taste in music.  But I think I would be able to survive with these 10 albums**.  I wouldn’t want to, but I could probably do it!


*You probably noticed there are some “compilation” albums on this list.  True, but they’re not the same as a Greatest Hits or box sets.  They’re my rules. I can draw the line in the sand where I want to!

** Honorable Mentions go out to: The Forrest Gump Soundtrack,   The Chronic by Dr. Dre, BloodSugarSexMagic by the Red Hot Chilli Peppers,Celebrity Skin by Hole, Sublime, Tragic Kingdom by No Doubt and Grave Dancers Union by Soul Asylum.  (Yes, I told you there was a lot of stuff from the 90’s!)


Inspired by Scott’s post (who was inspired by [dan], who was in turn inspired by Pitchfork), I’ve decided to highlight the music I was listening to at various stages in my life.  I’d like to say that my musical tastes are more refined/hipper than what is represented here, but that’s not necessarily true!

Age 5– Country Crooner
Oak Ridge Boys,  Greatest Hits #2

Road trips.  Grey conversion van.  Singing “Bobbie Sue” and “American Made”  for hours on end with my family.  My dad taking the low parts and the rest of us attempting to harmonize.

The Oak Ridge Boys will forever be solidified in my musical history as the first concert I ever attended.  Even now, I can’t help but sing along to the baseline in “Elvira”  (a-boom-bop-a-boom-bop-a-bow-wow) and “Thank God for Children” tugs at my heartstrings every time.  

C’mon– I was five!!



Age 10– Pop PrincessForever Your Girl cover
Paula Abdul, Forever Your Girl

Forever Your Girl is the first CD I ever bought (along with Whitney Houston’s self-titled debut–the one with “Greatest Love of All” on it).  I saved up all of my Christmas and birthday money, went to Good Vibes and for about $200 bought a state-of-the-art Sony CD player (sans remote) and two CDs.  I thought I was soooo cool!

I would hang out in my “music room” (actually a converted walk-in closet that was once connected to my brother’s room) and listen to this CD over and over and over.  I liked to rap along with MC Skat Cat on “Opposites Attract” and my friends and I choreographed our own dance routines to “Straight Up” and “Cold Hearted Snake.”  Little did we know that years later, Ms. Abdul would become famous as the “nice but loopy” judge on American Idol.

Honorable mentions:  Madonna Like a Prayer, Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation 1814

Age 15–  “Alternative” Angst
Nirvana, Unplugged in New YorkMTV Unplugged in New York cover

By 1994, I was completely enmeshed in “alternative” (i.e. mainstream) rock.   Kurt Cobain was my John Lennon and his suicide had a profound impact on my teenage disposition (and wardrobe).   Even though the validity of its “unplugged” moniker is debatable, there’s something completely mesmerizing about the stripped-down music, the haunting melodies, and the raspy pained vocals of Senor Cobain.   From the opening chords of “About a Girl” to the banter in between songs (“Am I gonna do this one… by myself?”) I can still recite every sound on this album and it will always have a place on my list of all-time favorites.

Honorable mentions: Tom Petty, Wildflowers;Weezer,  Blue Album;   Hole,  Live Through This


Age 20– Rock/Rap Rebellion
Eminem, The Slim Shady LP

What’s more annoying than the rock/rap “craze” of  the late 90s/early 2000’s?… The fact that I got sucked into it!  

I’ll even admit to seeing Eminem and Limp Bizkit in concert together this year.  I also saw Kid Rock/Metallica/Korn in STL, but I’m a little fuzzy on the dates.  

I was in college when The Slim Shady LPcame out and my friend (and now sister-in-law) Jo and I would listen to this album nonstop.    It’s definitely not  my favorite Eminem album, but it introduced me to his unique blend of emotional poignancy, celebrity trash-talk and stupid-boy humor.  It’s decidedly non-feminist, but that didn’t bother me back then… it was a rap album I could sing along too!

I make no excuses for liking Limp Bizkit, though.  Fred Durst made the red hat a douchebag fashion symbol before douchebag was even an insult.

Honorable Mentions:  Kid Rock– Devil without a Cause, Limp Bizkit–Significant Other;  Korn– Follow the Leader

Age 25– Single Schmingle
Outkast, “Hey Ya”

It’s probably more telling what isn’t listed here than what is.  25 was a pivotol year in my life.   By this time, I’d been working at my job for 3 years and had decided to end a long-term relationship and move back in with my mom to save money.   Many of my friends were getting married and some were having babies, yet I can’t think of any one album or artist that I was listening to at the time.   I searched the Top Albums and Top Singles charts and nothing really struck me.   Maybe I was downloading individual songs by then.  Or maybe I was just blindly listening to the radio, who knows.

 “Hey Ya” introduced “shake it like a Polaroid picture” into the lexicon and the video was vibrant and colorful, but to say it is in any way indicative of this time in my life would be false.  

Let’s just say it’s a catchy tune and leave it at that, shall we??

What are your definitive songs/albums?  I’m hoping some of my blogger friends will take the challenge and write about what they  were listening to back in the day!

Let me Explain. No, there’s not time. Let me sum up.

I’ve been a bit busy lately.  Here’s what I’ve been up to the past 8 or 9 days.

Went to see an AWESOME high school production of Footloose.  My friend was playing in the “orchestra” (if that’s what you call it.)  Cheesy.  High School.  Great costumes.   Can’t beat it with a stick.

Baby shower for Kristi.  Aren’t they cute?

Kristi and Lindsey

Celebrated Kari’s 30th bday (a week early) with a surprise party at J2.  Check out these kids.   Cuteness abounds in my circle.

Beau and Macie mini-bowling
Beau and Macie mini-bowling

NKOTB, part deux.  This time, we did it up limo-style:

Limo girls in Larry's shed
Limo girls in Larry’s shed
shots at the pink house
shots at the pink house
We had 9th row seats
We had 9th row seats
The "Kids" Wore Illinois shirts for the encore
The “Kids” Wore Illinois shirts for the encore

Ran the FULL 5K for the first time.   Good thing, ‘cuz it’s Saturday. I’m READY TO RUN!

Wrote two stories for my class that I actually like.  They’re about Italian circus performers, naturally ;)

Met threebabies for the first time:  Clennon’s son Neil and Jacelyn’s twins Jacob and Dylan. I even held and fed Dylan, which is quite a feat for me because I’m not much of a baby person–and he was only 4 years old!

Took Roxie to get her shots.  And then to the Emergency Vet for the allergic reaction to her shots.   Her face swelled up like Will Smith in Hitch. It’s funny now, but I was too worked up at the time to snap a pic.  Damn!

Helped celebrate the birthdays of Scott and Kari

Caught about half of The Princess Bride, thus the title of this post.

And then everyday stuff like work and chores and running… I’m kinda worn out, but I cannot WAIT until Saturday.   Don’t worry–there will certainly be a 5K update very soon!!

Of Rice and Men

You know how facebook’s new prompt is “What’s on your mind?”  Well, this is what mine would say if I answered that question correctly (and repeatedly)

  • It’s Friday night. I’m hanging out at home.  I’m okay with that.  I can handle solitude in small doses.
  • I paid $75 this week to get my oil changed and a new tail light.  Then they told me I needed new brakes and a bunch of other stuff.  I hate car repairs.  I don’t have a car payment, so I can’t complain.  But, seriously!
  • I’ve apparently forgotten how to make rice.  It’s been cooking for probably an hour and I’ve had to add water twice.  Grrr..
  • I had a great run tonight. I think it’s the new shoes.
  • I have a super busy weekend planned.  Hence the staying home on a Friday night.
  • We started a “Biggest Loser” thing this week in preparation for Steph’s wedding.   I think it will be fun. I’m taking “before” and “after” pictures, but I can’t post them until it’s all over.
  • My co-worker just had her babies.  Yes, that’s right– twins.  And she has a one-year old at home.  Congrats!
  • I need to write a couple stories for my class. I have some ideas, but I can’t bring myself to write them yet.  Thus, the blogging.
  • I’m dog sitting for the night and I just discovered Roxie has this crazy “patch” of skin/fur that needs to be checked out.  Yet another appointment I’ll forget to make.
  • I really need a personal assistant.  Or maybe just someone to pay my bills.  I’m also putting that off.
  • Kansas’ Carry On My Wayward Son makes zero sense.  But it’s so damn catchy.
  • Kansas is my least favorite state to drive through.  On one trip out West, my parents drove through Kansas in the middle of the night to spare us the boredom.  I woke up in the middle of the state thinking there was a rain storm.  There wasn’t. It was bugs.  Splattering on the windshield enough to make me wake up and think it was rain.  Gross.   My apologies to any  Kansasians (?) who might read this…
  • The shuffle on my iPod is apparently not working ‘cuz Kansas is now on again.  Annoying.  Must change it.
  • Got up to change the song on the iPod and realized the rice was burning. Smoke alarm went off. Hilarity ensued. 
  • Foo Fighters now on iPod.  Best of You. I can’t hear this song without thinking about Breaking Bonaduce when his wife gave him a mirror with the lyrics on it. “I needed somewhere to hang my head/without your noose.”  Yeah, totally not a love song.  I think they’re now divorced.
  • I think the burnt rice ruined my “good” stock pot.  Ugh.
  • This is my new favorite quote:  “I don’t feel middle-aged — I just feel like I’ve been young a lot longer than most people. ”
    Not that I am middle aged, but the second half really resonated with me.   It came from this really great article on drinking.

I think I’ll end on that note.  ‘Night.

I want, I want, I want EVERYTHING!

I officially signed up for the 5K at the Illinois marathon this week.  I’m planning on running it.  I’ve decided I won’t be a complete failure If I don’t run the whole thing, but I really, really, really want to be able to say I can run a 5K.  I’m not a runner at all, but I feel the need to have goals and at least try to accomplish them.

Lately, I’ve been doing a combination of Couch to 5K workouts and my own “modified” workouts.  For my modified workouts, I listen to some of my own music, some current favorites include:

  • Womanizer, Britney Spears (don’t hate)
  • Shake It, Metro Station
  • In the Middle, Jimmy Eat World
  • Single Ladies, Beyonce

But the *best* song for me right now is Los Angeles by Sugarcult.  I couldn’t find an actual video online, but this homeade one is pretty good.  The beat of this song is perfect for running and the “C’mon, C’mon” at the end inspires me to keep going.


I know I’ve blogged about this before, but I’m willing to put my money on Eminem’s Lose Yourself as the #1 best workout song ever. 


There are a couple of reasons.    One, it has a really strong beat.   Two, the cadence of the song gets faster and faster until the big crescendo at the end (yeah, I just read a little about music theory– but I knew those words from grade school, k?)  

And, finally, the message of the song is Don’t Give Up!!! (You’ve only got one shot/so don’t miss your chance to blow/), which certainly got me through my workout tonight.

So, those of you who are training to run the Illinois Marathon (or the half- or the 5K, like me) or just want some good old-fashioned dance around in your living room and get angry at the world music, I highly reccomend this song.

Any other suggestions?  What gets you through a long run/hard workout/crappy day at work?

Peter Pan

Someone told me that the secret to staying young is to always have a little Peter Pan in you, which reminded me of my favorite Hays Carll song.  It’s a Tom Waits cover, but I like Carll’s version better.

I absolutely love this song, but I think my favorite part is:

How do you move in a world of fog
That’s always changing things?
Makes me wish that I could be a dog…

I figured it out…

No, not the meaning of life.  Or even what I’m going to wear tomorrow.

I just figured out how I can like music lyrics so much but have a hard time with poetry.  It’s because I can HEAR the songwriter’s intentions.  I know where they want to place emphasis and what parts of the music are supposed to be stressed.  I guess there are clues in poetry (rhythm, meter, line breaks) but I haven’t quite learned how to interpret all that quite yet.

Oh, and I figured this out at the gym… a culmination of sweat, poetry, Jay-Z, and a book I’m reading for book club.  I love it when world’s collide.

2008: A Year in Review, Part 2

Welcome to the 2nd half of my year. I just realized that I probably should’ve done these in reverse chronological order, but whatever.

July–I took my blog public, making it a whole lot easier to remember what I did for the rest of the year.  I also started biking to work and we had Kristi’s Bachelorette Party Boat Trip:



August– I took two vacations this month, plus a Tour de Philo.  First up was my staycation and then a second trip to Nawlins for Kristi’s wedding:



September— I started running, became obsessed with Mad Men and reconnected with an old friend via Facebook.  We also had Bunco at Erin’s in conjunction with Philo Fest, but-unfortunately- I have no corresponding photos :-(


I do, however, have a photo of this thing that I found on my fence (I know you all needed to see it again)




October– was downright insane.   There was a crazy gas station incidentmy cat died, and I was involved in train accident on the way home from seeing Cross Canadian Ragweed in Carbondale.  To top off the craziness, this was the first year in a long time that I *didn’t* dress up for Halloween.  Odd.


And then there was the trip to Chicago to see the New Kids on the Block:




November– is always a busy month.  This year, I went to San Antonio for work. And had the usual Thanksgiving with the family.  Oh, and there was that whole historic election thing.

I also made a trip to Chicago for Nikki’s Big Ten Bar Crawl:



And attended my only (gasp!) U of I tailgate of the season




Family and friends of Ryann Smith held a benefit in Tuscola and raised a bunch of money. I realize that I haven’t blogged about Ryann at all.  She was born a couple days after Christmas with a rare birth defect called CDH.  She is a fighter.  Please keep her and the family in your thoughts and prayers. If you want to know more, visit her caring bridge page:


I also had Christmases with my Grannie Rich,  my brother, and the rest of my extended family.


(And, because I know you can’t get enough of me and firearms, here’s the infamous gun shot one more time…)



I spent my Christmas break lounging, watching movies (Marley and Me and Seven Pounds), reading (still making it through the Twilight saga… I’ll reserve judgment until I’m finished with all the books), and spending time with friends and family.


I rang in the New Year in Chicago, but failed to take a single photo.  Maybe I should resolve to be a better chronicler this year :)


Reflections on 2008

All in all, the year turned out pretty good.  In some ways, this is one of the hardest years I’ve ever had, but I’ve learned so much.   I’ve learned how to ask for help from those closest to me.  I’ve learned to say “no” on occasion and I’ve learned to enjoy myself in less-than-ideal circumstances. I’ve made some new friends, reconnected with others, and have spent more time with some of my family members than ever before.


This blog has really been a great outlet for me and I appreciate each and every reader, hit, and comment you all have given me.


Here’s to happiness and prosperity in 2009!