Tag Archives: music

If not music, then podcasts

26 Oct

So I told you about how I listen to music. And it’s all great, especially at work or cranked up at home. But in the car, I usually listen to podcasts.

Listening to podcasts keeps my mind focused. Sounds weird, right? You’d think that listening to words would mean I’m not focused on driving. But for some reason, it keeps my mind from wandering all over the place, so I actually am more focused on driving. Very similar to how knitting keeps me focused too. I don’t get it either; I just go with it.

So every week, I download and listen to…

Good Job, Brain!“. As they describe it, it’s a weekly “quiz show and off-beat trivia” podcast. I think it started with the four people who are on a pub trivia team, who used Kickstarter to get the podcast going. It’s really interesting, full of trivia (duh), and quizzes! Every fifth episode is an all-quiz bonanza.

“Here’s the Thing” with Alec Baldwin. Just Alec interviewing someone, usually a celebrity, but sometimes people that are just interesting too. It’s more in-depth than some interviews, and it’s not just “how did you start acting”.

NPR Sunday Puzzle“. I love puzzles. Will Shortz does a weekly bit on NPR Sunday Morning, and it’s fun to try and guess the answers.

Wait, Wait…Don’t Tell Me“. The most popular NPR show after Car Talk. Very funny, very entertaining, very interesting. My hope is to go to Chicago some Thursday and watch a show live.

Ask Me Another“. Another NPR trivia/quiz type show but this one uses audience members.

Radiolab“. Science-y and nerdy.

This American Life“. I sometimes wait to listen to these episodes because they can be deep and thought-provoking and occasionally sad. But a very good show.

Wits“. Kind of a “Prairie Home Companion” wanna-be but a little edgier. Sometimes the humor is a little forced, but I think it’s still trying to hit its stride. It’s got great guests and can be very funny.

I also used to download “The Classic Tales” podcast, but it’s now an app for the iPhone, so no need to download each week! This is an amazing voice actor reading great stories and books. Very cool.

Can you tell I’m a member of public radio? I do think NPR has some great programs, but I do have a few non-NPR podcasts. And all these podcasts get my through my commutes and time in the car.

The soundtrack of my life

24 Oct

Music is important to me.


I started playing piano when I was about four, then added clarinet in fifth grade. I stopped piano lessons after seventh grade, but I kept playing the clarinet all through college – I was in the marching band in college.

I’ve mentioned before that I grew up in a house that used TV as background noise. I do that too, but in recent years, I’ve tried to deliberately use music instead. And I’ve always had music on at my desk at work.

The beauty of today’s world is that there are so many options of how to get your music. There’s the radio, of course; I listen to the Current mostly. And I have my iPod, which has all my music on it. I don’t have a lot of playlists though. But I have one for working out – it’s full of up-tempo songs that keep me going. I can’t use it when running though. If I listen to music while running, I run to the tempo of the music which screws up my pace. And I haven’t taken the time to figure out what tempo I want to run at and find songs at that tempo. My other playlist is one that I call “Uppers”. It’s full of songs that either remind me of a really happy time in my life or make me laugh and smile. I love that playlist.

But thanks for technology-savvy friends, I’ve discovered other ways to get my music. Such as Pandora. I think everyone’s heard of Pandora radio now. My stations are based on Mumford & Sons, Muse, Frank Sinatra/Bing Crosby, Buddy Holly, Beethoven/Bach/Brahms, and Diana Krall. Weird mix, right?

SP introduced me to Spotify. I like Spotify, but sometimes it’s hard for me to find what I want to listen to. Plus, you have to pay for the web-based version, and I won’t do that. I’m all about the free music.

Stereomood is a great one. You pick what mood you’re in, and it starts a playlist for that mood. “I feel…” and you fill in the blank. Waking up, cooking, rainy day, gangsta…lots of choices.

My absolute favorite right now, and one I use a lot at work, is Songza. KB introduced me to this one, and it’s great. You can pick a genre, an activity, a mood, or a decade, and then you choose a playlist from that. I have sixteen playlists marked as favorites now, and my favorite one for getting energy back is the “1980s Anger Management” playlist. I also have the “Beach Blanket Bingo” one, the “Cool Songs for Young Moms” one even though I don’t have kids, the “Martini Swing” one, the “Essential Waltzes” one, the “Today’s Happy Pop” one, and a bunch of others.

I usually have music always going. At home, I don’t as much, because I don’t impose my musical tastes (which don’t agree with everyone) on others. If I’m home alone, I turn on the radio or crank up the computer. It’s very weird for me to go too long without listening to some music. It feeds me.

And sometimes, I listen to podcasts. But that’s a story for a different day.

Blogging challenge, day 7

11 Aug

August blogging challenge, day 7: Five songs that bring back great memories

1. “It Had to be You” by Harry Connick Jr.

The first dance at my wedding. And as I’ve said before, I don’t regret the marriage in any way. So this reminds me of a very happy day.


2. “Chasing Cars” by Snow Patrol

Reminds me of a great day with Mr Big.


3. “We Will Rock You” by Queen

Sitting at the St Paul Civic Center for the state high school hockey tournament.


4. “Sweet Child O’ Mine” by Guns N Roses

High school. Driving around with friends with the radio cranked.


5. “Come Along” by Vicci Martinez

I could pick a bunch of songs that remind me of dancing. This is just one example. It was what my teacher picked the first time I performed West Coast Swing.

Blogging challenge, day 4

6 Aug

August blogging challenge, day 4: An embarrassing moment

These are always hard for me. I have an excellent talent for blocking out bad moments and bad memories. Hmm.

I mean seriously, I’ve been sitting here for about 10 minutes, and I can’t think of any. I know I have embarrassing moments. I’m just THAT GOOD at blocking them out.

Well, here’s one. It was at a piano recital when I was about 4. We had to memorize our music and perform it in front of about what seemed like 50 people. I can’t tell you how many were actually there. I just remember it seemed like a roomful of people.

My piece was “Dance of the Sugar Cookies”. Yes, sugar cookies. I remember there were about 8 pieces which all told the story of how the cookies in the cookie jar came alive at night. Don’t ask, it was the ’70s. So I had the sugar cookie dance. (I wonder if it was a rip-off or a parody of the Nutcracker Suite? Huh, never thought about that til now.) Anyway, I start my piece, which I knew no problem. But a little ways in, I forgot the next part. And I’m frozen. I could not recall what came next! All I could remember was the last two measures. So I played those, started crying, and left the stage.

It was so embarrassing. And SO TRAUMATIC.

Day #7: Song that reminds you of a certain event

6 Oct

Again, easy.

“Music from the Royal Fireworks” by:

George Frideric Handel

I love classical music (although Beethoven is my favorite, not Handel), and this is such a great piece. And the 4th movement called Le Rejouissance (The Rejoicing) was the recessional at my wedding. And we had the most amazing professional brass quintet playing it!

Although we divorced 10 years later, getting married to TD was exactly the right thing for me to do for who I was at the time. And it still is one of the happiest days of my life. This song takes me back to the recessional and how truly happy I was.

Day #2: Your least favorite song

1 Oct

This was an easy one for me. There isn’t a lot of music that I don’t like or won’t listen to. Not a huge fan of country, although I like rockabilly and Johnny Cash. No gangsta rap.

But here is one I cannot listen to, at least not to the very end.

Why, you ask? Most people love this song. And I do like Peter, Paul and Mary. But have you listened to the lyrics? Have you actually thought about what they meant? I mean, this kid and this dragon are best friends. Then the kid grows up and apparently becomes too-cool-for-school to hang out with the dragon. So the dragon gets all sad and “slips back into his cave” because he misses the kid so much. (Listen to it here.)

Oh, my heart breaks for the dragon. How sad to be dumped by your best friend and forgotten! How terribly lonely that dragon must have been. Probably questioned his self-worth too and took a hit in his self-confidence.

I think it probably says a lot about my childhood that I can’t listen to this song without feeling absolutely sad for Puff. So if I do listen to it, I always stop it while they’re still together and happy.

Great, now this song is going to be stuck in my head all day from writing this!

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